To say Jack's early arrival was a surprise is an understatement. Everyone was telling me Jack would be late. I had mentally prepared myself to have a March baby, not one 2 weeks early! But God's timing is perfect and he knew Jack's birthday well in advance and helped me and Steven prepare for an early arrival unknowingly.
The Saturday before Jack came, Steven and I spent the day preparing --making freezer meals, installing his carseat, washing all his clothes, deep cleaning, etc.-- and then I started my work week out like any other. After work on Tuesday I went to my 38 week midwife appointment and told them I thought Jack was quite comfy in there and wouldn't come for quite some time... Little did I know I'd be back there holding my sweet babe in my arms less than 24 hours later.
(FYI, I'm writing down all the details more for my sake than anyone else's. Meaning, if birth and all the goo that comes with it grosses you out, I'd quite reading now. K?)I woke up at 1:30am to my very first contraction. I honestly didn't think much of it and went back to bed. I woke up again at 3:30 to use the restroom. While climbing out of bed I heard a slight pop and felt a small gush of fluid run down my leg. I thought, "either my water just broke or I peed on the carpet." The second option seemed more likely to be the case since I thought there was no way Jack was coming anytime soon, but almost immediately my contractions started getting more intense. I thought it best to let Steven continue to sleep, thinking my labor would be at least 30+ hours. However, from that point on, I got no sleep. I couldn't lay down because the contractions were so terrible. I thought the best thing to do was stay busy and try to ignore them until Steven's alarm went off. So I got up and decided to do a load of laundry and pluck my eyebrows. Yep, I plucked my eyebrows.
Before Steven's alarm went off at 5:30 I found myself struggling to stay relaxed with each contraction. The pain was so bad I kept thinking that if this is early stage labor there is no way I'm getting the unmedicated birth I'd practiced and planned for. When Steven woke up I told him I was in hard labor. Like the good husband he is, he didn't believe me ;). After all, it had only been 4 hours since my very first contraction. We scrambled around for about an hour or so throwing things into our hospital bag and shooting off emails to work, but every time a contraction hit I was doubled over in pain. I couldn't keep moving through them. I had to either hold on to Steven, resting all my weight on him and allowing my body to go limp, or I would squat down and rest my arms and forehead on my bed. With every contraction I keep thinking this can't be early labor, this can't be early labor.
Shortly thereafter, my contractions starting coming one right after the other. I was getting no break in between and it took every fiber within my being to stay relaxed each time a wave hit. Steven timed my contractions and we discovered they were less than a minute apart and lasting about 90 seconds. I think at this point he still thought there was no way I was this progressed in labor, and I too was skeptical and afraid to leave for the birth center too early. But in the end I know my body. My baby was coming and he was coming soon.
At 9:30 we made our way to the birth center in Bellevue. I listened to a relaxation CD given to me by my Bradley instructor over and over again. It helped me stay relaxed and in tune with my body. Each time a contraction hit, I just prayed to God that he would help me get through just this one! He answered and at about 10:15 we pulled up to the birth center.
They quickly checked my progress and told me I was 6-7 cm dilated and fully effaced. I couldn't believe it. My baby was coming! My baby was coming today! I continued to labor with Steven holding me up and supporting my weight or by squatting down knee to knee and forehead to forehead with him. He was so amazing! It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. I couldn't have done this without him.
Pushing was, as one would expect, hard. The midwife kept reminding me to work with my contractions. If I felt like I needed to push --PUSH! Some women describe the pushing stage as feeling good. It didn't feel good at all, but it did feel necessary, unavoidable, primal --and so I pushed. I pushed for about an hour until one of the midwives announced that she could feel his head. I reached down and felt Jack's perfect, hair-filled head. It was the most amazing moment of my life. These 9 months, the classes, the research, the eating healthy, the singing, talking, and praying for my little man all came to a head. He was almost here and my heart was bursting....but my contractions stopped.
I kept hearing that I needed to work with my contractions, but I wasn't having them anymore. His head was almost halfway out and I no longer had the strength or the contractions I needed to finish the job. I felt immense panic and for the first time started to cry. Steven and my amazing midwife kept encouraging me, contractions or not, to push my little man out. I prayed, pushed, and made noises I never knew I was capable of. Then I reached down and caught my son in my arms.
At 12:51 Jack was born. Less than 3 hours after arriving to the birth center.
I don't want to go into much detail of my postpartum. It was pretty bad, but the beauty of my birth experience overrides it. All I know is I was severely hemorrhaging. They had to reach up and remove a few blood clots (which was more painful then any part of the birth itself), manually try to clamp down my uterus, and insert a catheter to see if a full bladder was the issue. I was oblivious to the severity of my situation though and simply kept staring at my beautiful baby boy.
Finally, my bleeding did subside. They made me a protein shake and told me I needed to keep eating. I was severely dehydrated and had low blood sugar, I was shaking from head to toe, and for the first time I looked around me and noticed the blood covering my legs, feet, abdomen. I held my baby and cried thinking how blessed I was and how perfect he is. Then I asked Steven if I could have a turkey sub. :)
The midwives kept me at the birth center for about 5 hours for monitoring. My bleeding continued to subside and my color and energy started to return. At 5pm they said we could go home. We packed up and heading out with our little guy knowing our lives would never be the same. On the car ride home I stared at Jack, marveling over his blonde hair just like his daddy's and his cute button nose. I couldn't believe they were letting this perfect little being come home with us!