Wow, I cannot believe it. A year ago I was in labor with this sweet baby, yet to have met him, and now he is a part of my life so intently, I couldn't imagine life without him. Zander Ki Suell has brought us so much joy, laughter, and life over the past year, and I know he will continue to do so.
This sweet boy is bold, confident, adventurous. He is kind, vulnerable, cuddly, and loving. He loves others so much. He is a constant overflow of joy.
I pray, that as his name's meaning is: Defender of Men, that he will be just that. I am constantly speaking over him that he will be a warrior. That he will stand in the victory of winning, (because Jesus has already won for us). That he be a peacemaker, and a bringer of justice. That he will stand up for the weak and fight for the oppressed. I know that he will do all these things as well as love people well, and constantly show them grace!
So today, as I celebrate the sweet life that the Lord gave to us a year ago, I thought I would let y'all reminisce with me, and share my birth story with you! It's long, but it was one of the sweetest experiences that I have ever had!
My Dream Birthing Experience
Posted: April 23, 2014
Still I sit here asking myself..."Is this real life!?!?"
Today I found myself talking to my baby boy out loud, telling him just how much mommy loves him. Then I looked up at the mirror and saw myself, staring back, and in disbelief thought, "I can't believe I AM MOMMY!" But this is real life, and I have to say, it is a wonderful, glorious life! I have fallen in love with this tiny, precious soul, and I have fallen in love with motherhood!
So without any more hesitation, allow me to introduce:
So today, exactly 1 week since my tiny one was born, I will do my best to write my thoughts out, with some facts included on how my BIRTH STORY went.
My official due date was Monday, April 14, 2014. That Monday at my doctor's appointment, I was dilated to a 3, and I was 50% effaced. My doctor asked me if I wanted to schedule to be induced the next day. I told him no, I wanted to wait. He was okay with that as long as I had Zander by the following Monday, (April 19th). If not, then he wanted to induce on that day. I had all of my friends praying that I would go into labor that week. Inducement was my last choice. I did not want to be induced. For one, I wanted to experience the natural process of my body going into labor. Plus I feel like your baby will come when it's time for your body, and I didn't want to force him out. (Just my personal opinion, no judgement to others that choose to or have to get induced.)
GOING INTO LABOR:
So, a week ago, on Wednesday, April 16th I woke up at 2AM having my first ever contractions. I got out of bed and went straight to the bathroom. The contractions felt a lot like cramping, so I was testing my body first to see if I just had to go to the restroom or something. The cramps kept coming frequently, so I knew they were contractions. My husband had recently downloaded a "Contraction Counter" app on his phone, so I grabbed that and started keeping track. Which side note: If you are pregnant, get an app...it was SO MUCH HELP! I kept track of my contractions all morning, so I knew where I was in the labor process.
Shortly after starting the contractions and seeing that they were lasting about 30 seconds, and only about a minute and a half a part, I decided to call my mom. It was about 2:20AM. I went back and forth on whether or not to call her yet. She lives 5 and a half hours away, and had recently warned me..."Give me enough time to get to you, I don't want to miss the birth of my 6th grandchild!" So I didn't want to hesitate too long, but also I didn't want it to be a false alarm and her come all the way here, since she would only get 1 week off work no matter what. So after seeing how consistent my contractions were I decided that this baby was coming TODAY! So I called her. She got right up and headed to get my grandmother. They were quickly on the road by about 3AM if not sooner.
Over the next several hours I went from the hot bath, to the toilet, to my nursery rocking chair, to walking the pain off around the house. I really enjoyed the hot bath. I took one almost immediately after waking up at 2AM. I kept the water in the bathtub because I knew I would be back again. I think I took 5 baths that morning, just adding fresh hot water each time! That was a comforting place for me.
At about 4AM I tried to lay back in bed. My husband woke up at that time and noticed his phone beside him and started looking at the app. He quickly made himself aware of the situation and that I was having frequent contractions and had been for a while. He was awake now, and asking how I was doing. He got up and made me some biscuits! I was starving!
My husband stayed up with me for a while, then later layed back down, but couldn't really fall asleep. Around 5:30AM we called his mom to let her know the situation. Then I noticed my sister was on Facebook so I told her I had been having contractions all morning. She was shocked, and annoyed that I hadn't called her at 2AM! Over the next hour or so we skyped with her. My husband would hold the phone and we would all talk. All the while I was still having contractions every minute and a half a part. So when a contraction came I would get up and walk around the room, or out of the room if it was a really hard one.
Although in pain, I really enjoyed being able to go through this labor at home. That was my plan and desire. I wanted to stay home laboring as long as possible. I figured I would enjoy the freedom of my home or the freedom to get in the bathtub if I wanted while I was in pain. I wanted to put off getting hooked up to machines and IV's as long as possible. So a little before 8AM I decided I was tired of sitting and standing. I would sit between contractions, but felt the need to walk it out when a contraction came. I decided I would try laying in bed. This worked great. I would literally snooze for 1-2 minutes between contractions, then wake up, press start on the phone, and breath through the contractions. At this time they had become more like 45-50 second contractions.
At about 8AM my mom and grandma arrived. They came in and were so excited to see me. I got back out of bed and ate two more biscuits. At some point around this time I told my husband to go ahead and load the hospital bag in the car and get the carseat buckled in. I then laid back down, and my husband planned to call the doctor's office and just let them know what was going on.
We got in touch with the doctor at about 10AM, and the nurse practitioner wanted to speak to me. I told her how frequent and how long my contractions were, (the app helped with this). Then she asked if I was still feeling the baby move a lot. This is a question that the doctor's ask at every visit, it is really important that you are always feeling your baby move. When she asked this I remember earlier in the morning thinking I hadn't really felt him move much. So I automatically thought back to that and told her not as much. She then suggested we go on and head to the hospital.
So I got out of bed, and we began preparing to go to the hospital. I was in no rush though. Between contractions I took time to get some last minute things together, brush my teeth, braid my hair, etc. We finally left, and made it to the hospital by 11AM.
AT THE HOSPITAL:
At 11AM we got to the Birthing Place at the hospital. When we walked up the registration desk and told the lady we were there to check in. Her response was, "What for?" My husband looked at me and then answered, "To have a baby...." We both kind of laughed at how awkward this was. Really though it was sad because she went on to ask if we had an appointment for inducement. I said no and explained that I thought I was in labor and my doctor told us to head on up. It was sad that inducing has become so primary that it was weird for her to have me coming because I felt like I had naturally gone into labor.
Anyways, she took us back to a room where a nurse began asking me questions and was prepping to check me to see what I was dilated to. One of her first questions to ask was if I was going to have an epidural. When I responded no, she went on, like most nurses and doctors to encourage it and let me know I could always get it if I needed it. I politely listened to what she had to say, but disregarded it.
When it was time to check me, she revealed that I was dilated to 6 CENTIMETERS AND 100% EFFACED. She let me know that we were STAYING TO HAVE THIS BABY TODAY! The next thing she said was so encouraging. Unlike her former comments, she said, "You could definitely do this without an epidural if you want to because you have already done half the work!" I was very excited to hear her encouragement!
CHECKING IN TO THE HOSPITAL:
Officially checking in to the hospital consisted of IV's, getting hooked to several monitors, getting asked tons of questions, and then making myself comfortable in our room. The room was a great size, so after doing everything with the nurse I sent my husband down to go get my stuff from the car. As I mentioned in my "What's in My Hospital Bag" Video I brought several things to set a relaxing and peaceful atmosphere/aroma in my room. So I got my husband right on that. He set up our dock and iPod, playing my "Labor" playlist filled with peaceful worship music. Then he pulled out my mason jar filled with baking soda and put in 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil. This jar was to act as a natural diffuser that would dispense scents of lavender throughout the day. I was so impressed by how well this worked. At various times throughout the day I would get a scent of lavender and it would bring on a peaceful and calming attitude for me.
At 12:25PM my doctor came by to see us. He was excited to know that we would be having this baby soon! He took a moment to pray over us, which he does at each doctor's appointment. We love this about him and is one of the reasons why we chose him as our doctor. We all gathered around and held hands and prayed over our sweet little one!
LABORING AT THE HOSPITAL:
Soon after we got settled in I was given my 2nd nurse of the day. This was unusual because it was not an official shift change, but it was fine. The new nurse was very nice and encouraging. She constantly throughout the day bragged about how well I was doing. She said this was the ideal labor. I was doing rather well. Although my contractions were still painful and very consistent, I was still able to function and interact with my family. I was also on my phone texting my friends updates about our status. I even had two work friends drop by to see me. (My work is right across the street from the hospital). I would be interacting with everyone, then when I had a contraction I would get very quiet and breath through it. My nurse told me that I was doing great, and that most people dilated to a 6 were climbing the walls at this point.
At 1:18PM my doctor came by again and suggested going ahead and breaking my water. This wasn't necessarily in my plan, but I had recently read how most women who go into natural labor may not actually have their water break naturally. It was not that big of a deal to me, so we decided to move forward with it.
Having my water broken was not painful at all. Actually I don't remember feeling anything except for warm goo coming out of me. And let me just say I was grossed out! I kept commenting on how disgusting this was and felt! My family just laughed at me, probably thinking of how much more disgusting things that were in store for my day.
As soon as they broke my water we called my mother-in-law. She had decided earlier in the morning to go to a half day of work. When she heard my water broke she jumped right into the car and started her 5 and a half hour journey to come to us.
My contractions were still the same, staying consistent, lasting over a minute long at this time, but still manageable and bearable for me. I got tired of laying in bed though, so I spent time laying, standing, on the birthing ball, and even walked around the halls some with my husband.
After breaking my water, they checked me and I was still dilated to a 6, and the baby was at a -1 gestation.
It was at this time that my nurse said one of the most wonderful things I have ever been told. She told my family, "I think she is made for having babies!" This made my day! I have had such a desire to become and mom, and really feel like this is what I am made for, so for a complete stranger to say this meant a lot to me!
DILATED TO AN 8:
4:32PM They checked me and I was dilated to an 8, and the baby had dropped some more.
5:33PM Nothing much had changed, still just waiting on Zander to come.
7:10PM My contractions started to pick up here. I started feeling them more, but I was still able to interact with my family between the contractions. The plan for later in the day when I started really laboring and getting close to pushing was for my husband to stay with me and coach me and for my mom to be my "2nd" person in the room, and she would be taking photos. I wanted pictures of my husband and I laboring together, and of when Zander first came out.
It was around this time that my mother-in-law arrived after getting a ticket as she frantically tried to get to us as quick as possible. She explained to the officer that she was headed to see her very first grandchild be born, but he didn't care too much since she was driving 75mph in a 60 speed limit.
My husband stood by my bed as my pain increased and our family sat in the sitting area of my room. They were great to have in the room. They didn't interrupt or anything. When I was in pain they sat quietly, and let my husband and I go through it all together. My mom described our room and how I was doing as being "Painful, but Peaceful."
It was about this time that my nurse started prepping the room for the doctor because she anticipated the time was getting closer.
NIPPLE STIMULATION: (yes you heard right)
7:18PM At this time I was progressing well. It was about time for a shift change, so my former nurse introduced me to my new nurse. I liked her immediately. She seemed to really know what she was doing and was very informative.
Her first task as my nurse was to point out that if we wanted to have this baby that I had to make my way from being dilated at an 8 to a 10. The only problem was, is that although my contractions were longer now, they weren't quite close enough together to really get me to dilate to a 10. She suggested that we move to using Pitocin, (this was not my first choice AT ALL!), or her more natural suggestion was nipple stimulation. We chose the second.
So our family cleared the room and our nurse explained the process. Yes there was an actual process to follow when doing this. So we began this method, and it actually worked. I began really contracting at this point, more frequently, and I would say at this point is when the pain began to increase. Basically the way it works, is that nipple stimulation releases oxytocin in your body, which is the natural form of Pitocin, which causes your uterus to contract! So it was working well.
After a while, they did end up giving me a tiny bit of Pitocin, but it was not much at all. Usually they give it to people at a 20+, I got it at a 2, and they never increased it.
When my pain really began increasing, Nurse #3 suggested that I lie down to labor through the pain.
My nurse wasn't there long, when they introduce me to Nurse #4! Yes this is my fourth nurse since arriving at 11AM. At this time, my contractions are really picking up, but I am lying on my side, breathing through them. My husband is right there beside me encouraging me along. As soon as Nurse #4 comes in she suggests that I try sitting up in the bed. This is not something I want to do, since from early in the morning at home I knew that I didn't enjoy laboring while sitting. I would rather stand or lie down. She said that this would help baby move lower into the birthing canal though. So I thought if it will get me closer to having this baby then I will do it.
I was on my way towards sitting in the bed when I got my next contraction. So far this was the hardest contraction I had felt. I was mid way sitting, in a lot of pain, and I just started crying. Not a ton, but the tears wouldn't stop. The nurse apologized and said I could lie down if I wanted. I explained that I really was okay, and wanted to try sitting. I think all the change of nurses and telling me things to try hadn't gotten to me, plus the pain, and not being prepared in a sitting position. This was the first time I got emotional during the process.
From here we tried different methods, I even sat up on all fours for several contractions. The pain was getting very intense at this time.
Nurse #4 was very nice, but she seemed to talk A LOT! And as I mentioned before, when I was contracting and in pain I didn't want people talking to me. She would be explaining something (which she did a lot), and I would start contracting and instead of stopping talking, she would keep going. I don't know if she expected for me to listen of what. My husband several times asked her mid-sentence to "Give us a second..." I don't know if she ever got the cue.
At one point I had gone to the bathroom with my mom and I told her...."OMG, this nurse talks so much. I know she is doing her job, and she's nice, but I wish she would shut up!"
KICKING & SCREAMING:
8:07PM My doctor comes in and decides to check me again. He says I'm getting close, and we may be getting ready to push.
8:18PM More contractions are happening and I am starting to feel lots of pressure and pain.
I get to a point where the contractions are every minute and a half a part. From the time when I sat up, when Nurse #4 came, (a little after 7PM), to 9PM the contractions got really hard. I was definitely kicking and screaming! I had gotten to a 9, and then dilated to a 10. I was so close, but come to find out the first nurse that told me I was 100% effaced was wrong. I was 90%, and that last 10 seemed to be VERY important.
My nurse would leave for 15 minute increments and tell me she would come back and check again. There was one time she was checking me, when she wanted to check my cervix during a contraction. My doctor had done this earlier and although painful and hard, it went fine. So now the nurse was going to do it. Well when she did it, it was awful. Apparently I even reached down and yanked her hands out of me! (whoops, sorry!)
Big Sis said this was her favorite part. Oh, did I mention that my sister who lives in Florida was on Skype on my mom's iPad the entire time. She was muted and just watched, which may be weird to some, but actually the doctor never asked my family to leave, so my mom, mother-in-law, grandmother, and sister (via Skype) all watched my entire birth. I was okay with it because they were so quiet and never interfered I didn't even pay attention to the fact that they were there!
TIME TO PUSH:
After pulling the nurses hand out of me, I believe it was about 8:45PM she told me she would come back in at 9PM to check if the 10% was gone. At this point I was in so much pain! I was screaming, crying some, kicking, flailing! It was so hard! My husband was incredible. He braced himself across the bed and I pushed on his arm. He prepped me for each contraction. This 15 minutes seemed to go by so slow. He kept saying, just one more contraction and the nurse will come. I knew I had several more before it became 9PM, but I listened to him and tried to believe it was only one more.
It was at this point that my body was telling me to push! It was so hard because the nurse said I couldn't yet, but my body had such a need to push! It was getting so hard.
Finally she checked me again and said still I was only 90% effaced. I was going to have to wait longer!! This was terrible news for me, but then my doctor came in the room. I was so glad to see him. I just knew he would allow me to have this baby. He checked and did some stuff inside me to manually help my cervix thin, and it was time to push!
HERE COMES BABY:
My nurse and Meguell (my husband) held each of my feet and were telling me to push. It was really hard to push the right way, without clenching. Let's just be honest for a second. One big fear of giving birth for a lot of women is that they will poop on themselves. YUCK right.....well now I understand why it is so easy to happen. Naturally I was clenching my butt when pushing, and they told me not to. Really I had to push as if I was going to the restroom! It was the weirdest thing, but I was willing to do anything to get closer to being done with this pain!
I pushed and pushed. Then after one push, my husband's voice when encouraging me changed! He was so excited, telling me, "Oh my goodness you are so close! You can do this! Just push!" I knew he had seen the baby! I even laughed out loud and said, "You saw him didn't you!?!?" He told me he saw hair and movement!
This was so sweet to me because my husband has a week stomach and when we have talked about birthing before he said he didn't know if he could handle looking and would get grossed out just talking about it. I loved hearing his excitement though.
I think it was only a couple more pushes and I was done! My baby was here after pushing for 20 minutes! My doctor and the nurses were also amazed at this! Saying that for my first birth this went so well and easily!
After pushing Zander out I literally laid there with my eyes clothes for a moment. I knew when I opened my eyes I would see my baby, but I had to sit and breath for a second. I had to take a moment to soak in the fact that that was the worst, most terrible pain I had ever experienced!
SEEING MY BABY BOY!
Then I opened my eyes and saw my boy! I could not believe reality!
I literally laid there as the doctor wiped him off saying aloud..."OMG is this real life?!?" "Babe, that is our baby!" "O My word I can't believe this is real!" "I am a mom!" Over and over I said these things, in disbelief that this moment was actually happening.
Then my husband got to cut the umbilical cord. Another thing that he always said he could not do! It was such a sweet moment. Meguell said the only time he got a little nauseous was when Zander came out. He said he thinks the hype of the emotions and then the way Zander was purple, hahaha, but Meguell did great! I was so thankful of him! I loved getting to experience this with him, and he was seriously such a good coach! I wouldn't have wanted any other help!
Then it was time for them to hand me my baby. We got to do skin-to-skin for close to 2 hours! It was great! Having my sweet boy up against me, and my husband right there with me as we just admired how sweet he was. Zander was so alert from the moment they put him on me. His eyes were open wide and he was looking all around. And he already had his hand up by his mouth, looking like he was trying to find his thumb to suck on. He started breastfeeding soon after. It was such a sweet time for our family!
Since this was such a long post, I will leave not describe to you all my feelings of being a mother! I'm sure I will share those in the future. For now just enjoy the sweetness of my baby boy! These photos were taken the day after birth by my friend that came to visit us at the hospital!