In honor of Theo's due date today, I thought I'd share the story of his birth. It's definitely not the story that I imagined I'd be sharing, but little man had his own plans and I must admit, he gave me a pretty awesome story to tell....
When I think about my labor and delivery with Theo I feel an immense sense of pride and accomplishment. Granted, that’s what I feel now. At the time all I felt was pain, anxiety, fear and also? More pain. I’ve gone back and re-read Emmett’s birth story (both mine and Eric’s) a dozen times since his birth. I knew I wanted to record Theo’s in the same way, but I had no idea it would be such a dramatic story!
I visited my OB/GYN on Thursday, February 27th and she measured me at 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. These numbers were surprising because at my previous appointment just a week earlier I was not dilated at all. During that week I did experience several instances of Braxton Hicks contractions, more than I ever had with Emmett. I expected to have some progress, but when she said those numbers I got a little anxious. I asked her if she thought I’d make it to March 6th – the day my mom was due to fly in – and she at first said no, but then backtracked when she remembered that February was a short month and the 6th was just a week away. Ultimately, I got the answer that all pregnant women love to hear: every woman is different, there’s no way to know for sure.
I shared the news with Eric and my mom, and they both shared in my nervous excitement. Eric had been tentatively planning on taking paternity the week of March 10th, with the idea that I’d be induced on the 11th, my original due date. So, he got a little nervous about the week’s worth of work in front of him that he might not be able to wrap up before baby.
My mom and I ultimately decided to move up her flight from Thursday (3/6) to Sunday (3/2). We were both fretting about it, and we knew that this would ease our minds. The next day (Friday) she changed the flight to Sunday morning. Then, on Saturday morning, with a decision that would prove to be extremely fortunate, my dad decided to change it to Saturday evening (3/1), because of bad weather that was due into Fayetteville on Sunday.
Saturday arrived and when I woke I felt an immediate sense of relief knowing my mom was coming. She would be here to stay with Emmett if I had to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, which was one of my biggest worries while pregnant.
We had a lovely Saturday. Eric worked a little bit from home that morning and Emmett and I did our typical thing. Then we all had lunch outside on our back patio and enjoyed the beautiful weather. When Emmett went down for his nap, I decided to rest a little, too. I had a few Braxton Hicks contractions during my nap.
The rest of the day seemed to move in slow motion while at the same time being over before I could even believe what had happened. Here’s a breakdown of what happened when:
5:00 p.m. – The first contractions begin and I start tracking them, although they feel like Braxton Hicks, they are coming regularly, about every 2.5-3 minutes. During this time I sit and try to relax, read a few magazines and tell Eric that I’m having Braxton Hicks, but I don’t know what to make of it yet.
6:00 p.m. – Contractions are still regular and feel like more than BH but not painful. I decide to pack up the last of my hospital bag with toiletries so that just in case it’ll be ready when we return from the airport with my mom. Her flight arrives at 6:45 p.m. Eric asks me if I’m sure I want to go with him and Emmett to get her and I decide I’d rather be with them than not, so I grab a trash bag and towel to protect the front seat and I climb on board, too.
6:20 p.m. – The contractions begin to have a dull pain and they are coming closer together, about every 2 minutes. They last around 30-40 seconds.
Flashing back to my labor with Emmett – my water broke in the morning and contractions didn’t begin until about 2 hours later. When they started, they were about 3 minutes apart. I remember tracking them with an app and noting that they weren’t yet 5 minutes apart. Obviously, my brain wasn’t working very well, since contractions at 3 minutes apart are actually further progressed than ones at 5 minutes. Apparently, the 5-1-1 rule doesn’t apply to me. It’s 3-1-1 and “get you’re a$$ in the car!”
At this point in the drive I’m feeling a range of emotions. My head is spinning about whether or not I should have stayed home. I keep feeling anxious about actively driving away from the hospital and contemplate having Eric turn around and calling a cab for my mom. Ultimately, I stick with the plan: we will get my mom, we will go home and grab my bag and then go to the hospital.
I should mention that during the drive to the airport I was basically silent. I was thinking about so much in my head and timing contractions and trying to breathe during them. Eric would look over and note when I had pushed the “start” button and know that I was in the middle of one. Surprisingly, I’m as quiet during labor as I am on any other day.
6:45 p.m. – We arrive at the airport and pull up to the curb. While we wait for my mom to come out we decide to go straight from the airport to the hospital. Eric says we will probably save 20-30 minutes that way and all I hear is, FASTER EPIDURAL and I’m game.
7:00 p.m. – My mom comes to the car and Eric tells her that I’m in labor and that we’re going to the hospital. She is super excited! She later tells me you could hear a pin drop in the car on the way to the hospital. All I was thinking was “EPIDURAL. EPIDURAL. EIPDURAL.” And all Eric was thinking was, “PLEASE DON’T GET STUCK IN TRAFFIC.” Emmett was watching videos of himself on the iPad. No one was talking. I was in a good amount of pain during my contractions and I think everyone was afraid to annoy me, especially after I made Emmett stop playing a video of himself where he’s particularly whiny. Everything annoyed me.
7:30 p.m. – We made it to the hospital and tried for several minutes to figure out where to park, eventually making it to the underground lot at Labor & Delivery. Eric went to get a wheelchair and we made our way inside. The place was so quiet. I had called my doctor’s office to let the on-call doc know we were on our way. I guess I expected someone to be ready for me, waiting to take to me a room and get going. Nope. We waited behind another couple as they signed in and then filled out a small form as the ONE PERSON WORKING took care of the people before us. She then told us to wait in the waiting room. This was probably the worst thing I’d ever heard in my life and I gave that woman my best evil-eye.
We waited for 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES. Contractions every two minutes at this point.
Eric paced around to the front to keep reminding the woman we were here. I sat in the wheelchair in a crazy amount of pain during the contractions that were now coming every minute and a half or so. Finally they called for us and instead of going back to a room, they brought us to a desk where they asked me questions and had me sign stuff. I don’t think I will ever be able to adequately describe the mix of anger, fear and pain that coursed through my body. I pre-registered over a month before, why was I being asked these things? But I just sat there and waited, praying for things to get moving.
8:00 p.m. – After probably around five minutes, I was done with paperwork and a nurse came out to get me. She wheeled me gently into the triage room where Eric helped me change into a gown and then I collapsed onto the bed. I was lying on my side and I couldn’t move, I was in so much pain. I told the nurse I really wanted an epidural. She told me she wanted to check me first.
She did the check. She said that my cervix was ready and I’m at 9.5 cm dilated. I began to freak out and asked her if I can still have the epidural. She picks up the phone and calls to say that I’m much further along than she thought, can someone come right away for the shot.
Then with a pop and a warm gush over my legs, I yell out that my water has broken. At that moment I feel such a strong urge to push that I can’t stop. I was really, really scared at the idea of what was about to happen. I kept saying how scared I was and that I didn’t think I could do it. The nurses – four in total – kept saying very encouraging things:
“Your body is made to do this.”
“You’re going to do this.”
“Probably only 4-5 more contractions and this baby will be out.”
They helped me calm down; they helped me believe I was going to deliver my baby on my own; they gave me the courage I needed.
Eric was at my side the entire time. He saw everything I was going through and stayed calm, rubbing my arm and telling me that I was doing great.
I don’t know that I could describe the feeling of a contraction and the uncontrollable urge to push. Your body takes over and you just do it. When I pushed with Emmett (with an epidural) I couldn’t feel the contractions, the doctor had to watch the monitor and tell me when one was coming so I could push at the right time. And when I pushed I kept wondering, “Am I doing this right? Is anything even happening?”
During natural labor, your body knows what to do and you just try and hang in there. I remember thinking that it didn’t feel like I was going to be able to push a baby out of me. Then I heard the nurse say it might only be one or two more contractions and I was blown away. I couldn’t believe what my body had done in such a short amount of time.
During the breaks between the last few contractions, the nurses asked if we had any last guesses for the baby’s sex. We both said girl. Then Eric told them that what he could see of the baby’s hair looked like “boy hair.”
Then we got to the final push and I remember the immediate relief of pressure when the baby came out. Eric said, “It’s a boy!” and I was so happy in that moment that he was a boy; that Emmett would have a little brother; that I had just done something so incredible. It was truly an amazing moment for me. He cried right away and they placed him on my chest and I cried when I felt him there, finally with us.
Theodore Robert Jackson was 9 lbs. 1 oz. and 21¼” long. He was born at 8:31 p.m., an hour after we arrived at the hospital and just 30 minutes after I made it back to the triage room.
The next several minutes and stretching into the next few hours, I was in a dazed state of disbelief and amazement. I couldn’t believe the sequence of events that evening. If anything had gone differently – a delayed flight, a traffic jam, more paperwork – we could have had a completely different ending to the night’s story.
In the time after Theo was born, I lay on the bed with him in my arms as the doctor (who arrived after baby) stitched me up. We told the nurses our story about coming straight from the airport. They moved around the room, cleaning up and checking the baby and me. One nurse told me that I was definitely the quietest, calmest, most collected woman she’d ever seen in labor. She said she was very surprised when she checked me and I was as far along as I was. Looking back on it, if I’d made more noise I probably would have gotten to the room faster, since I bet the lady at the front desk had no idea I was about to deliver a baby, either.
After awhile, Eric brought my mom and Emmett back from the waiting room to meet Theo and see me. Emmett was so curious about the baby. Theo was getting examined and cleaned by the nurse and Eric held him up to watch. We could tell how proud he was already. My mom came over to me and all I recall is both of us just shaking our heads, mouths agape, trying to comprehend what had just happened!
By that point in the evening, it was 9 p.m. and Emmett hadn’t even eaten dinner! So Eric took my mom and Emmett back to our house for the night and went to get his bag so he could stay with the baby and me at the hospital.
After Theo had been cleaned up, the nurse gave him back to me and it was just the two of us in the room for about 30 minutes. I called my dad and filled him in on the details of Theo’s amazing arrival. Then I lay there with my baby boy sleeping soundly on my chest, thinking how incredible the last 3.5 hours had truly been. I was on such a high that I barely slept that night. I just kept replaying the night in my head over and over. I could barely believe that our boy was here. Just like that our family grew bigger and my heart felt like it would burst.
|Theo right after birth.|
|Me and Theo the next morning.|
|Theo on his due date.|