Walking in the Lord's Grace day by day....



Whew! Sorry for the long in between, this post is being brought to you by coffee (which I never drink) and a couple sugary cheat treats as it's been a tiring week! Rewarding but hoo-wee, I miss that thing called sleep.

We arrived at the hospital right around 10:15/10:30 pm. It was so quiet and I believe I was the only one on the labor and delivery wing, which I was shocked as the hospital had been in defer a bunch in our prior visits.  I had a contraction or two in the hallway and what was really helping me was counter pressure in my back at that time, so I would slowly (or maybe faster than I thought) grab Matt's hand and guide him to where on my back he needed to press.  
Before we left I changed into my own labor gown (a maternity/nursing dress I got at a garage sale for $3, score!), threw on a pair of yoga pants below and a cardigan. Matt grabbed his backpack and my labor bag, we left my postpartum bag in the car. (I'll have to do a separate post on all the stuff I packed. I really did use most if not all of it, surprisingly)

This image I just love as we were walking into the L&D wing and our nurse, a familiar face was rooming us. Now this is where we don't have a ton of imagery and I am totally ok with that, the room was completely dark and It was Natalie's time to rest, aka pass out and crumple into a chair in the room. She hadn't slept at all, like me, but needed some rest. She was in and out of it helping time my contractions as it gave me motivation to know how soon I would be done or over the hump of one. Karen arrived,and Matt and Karen helped me through each contraction as I was being checked in.

Now Matt and I had made the decision that I would be checked but that I wasn't going to know the "number". Just so that I wouldn't be super discouraged if I wasn't as far as I thought. Well, after 29 hours of labor I WANTED to know. The whole car ride there I was thinking in my head......."I think I am a four. If I am not a four I might just die, but if I am a 6-7 I might be super awesome. But I still think I am a four." So needless to say when they checked me I begged Matt to tell me, as we had told our nurse not to tell me but just him.

He wouldn't. I complained and then just gave up as he told me to just stop and go with the plan. I was a little discouraged as he didn't look "too excited" so I knew that I definitely wasn't farther than 6, cause I know my hubby's reactions. I moved on which is surprising to me, and we continued to labor through the night. Matt decided to get a good hour's rest around 1am while Karen and I were laboring in the room, contractions coming very steadily.

Now we were saving the bath for the "midwives epidural" in other words saving laboring in the tub until I couldn't handle the pain anymore and have the bath push me out longer. Hopefully taking away or taking the hit off the pain. At about 2am I asked Karen and my nurse to start the tub, my brain was just going close to crazy. I was exhausted, spent and just having a hard time with each contraction at that point. I need some relief so into the tub I went.

It was so great to lay back in hot water......until the first contraction hit while I was on my back and I was stuck and it was terrible. I was so surprised as I thought forsure I would love the tub, but after not being able to find a position that worked in the tub, my heart just knew.

I looked at Karen, 32 hours in and said "it's time for an epidural." Now bless y'all you sweet ones, who praised me for having a natural childbirth. I definitely was hoping for one, but I have ABSOLUTELY no regrets on this decision.

At this point, I had no reserves, no energy, no food or sleep for over a day. Even though I didn't know how far dilated I was I KNEW I wasn't in transition and I honestly knew I wouldn't be able to handle that and birthing my baby in the state I was in. 8 hrs of labor, sure I do think I could have pushed through. But it wasn't even an emotional decision at this point. Honestly if felt like a decision of survival for me.

Karen woke up Matt to talk it over, as we did want to try to avoid an epidural if possible. I was tiny bit afraid that he would oppose me, but I was calm as can be in the tub. He woke up and was surprised I wasn't screaming my brains out making the decision. Seeing that I was calm and as sound of mind I could have been at that time, he totally agreed it was time. So around 2:30/45 we asked for epidural.

Before I got out of the tub, I said to Matt I was a 3 or a 4cm when I checked in right? And he looked at me and said, yes you were a 4cm. Funny how we seem to know our bodies right?

I had remembered that I needed to get a full bag of saline in before they could give it to me, which I knew equalled about 30 minutes. Then I was informed the anesthesiologist was on call and needed to be paged in, that was a little discouraging but she did arrive fairly soon.

What I didn't expect is that once you make the decision you want help with the pain, mentally the contractions would get SO MUCH harder. I was asking (maybe loudly asking) TELL ME I CAN DO THIS from my birth team. I just was so ready for some sort of rest. Also, when you are counting SO much on that relief after the decision, so many fears of a epidural that wouldn't work, would not work in one leg or part of my body came up. I started to get emotional and we prayed some more.

When going over all the steps and such the anesthesiologist really stressed to NOT move during a contraction if that is when the needle was put in. So I was as STILL as I could be of course getting a contraction right though it. Matt was there to calm me and help me curl my back as much as I could so that the needle would go in clean.
(I am posting these crazy unflattering photos of me because I want to remember one, how exhausted we were and number two to praise God at how remarkable our bodies are. I had so much water weight on my body, and I am blown away with what even my 3 week postpartum body looks like with nothing but staying at home nursing my baby.)

Praise God I had an amazing epi. I was able to move my legs and some of my hips, but was numb up to the top of my belly. The only unfortunate thing was that I got the shakes REALLY intensely after I got the epidural. So instead of being able to go to sleep right away, it took me about an hour or hour and a half to be on oxygen and just let the shakes ride out.  So around 4:30-4:45 am I think I finally fell asleep. They had checked me after the epidural was all in place and working and I was a loose 5. We decided that Karen should head home to get some good sleep as there wasn't a comfortable place for her to rest, and she would be back when I hit about an 8. 

They awoke me about an hour later saying contractions had slowed so they wanted to start pitocin. At that point I didn't care much and just asked that we start slow, but I wasn't feeling anything then so it was the next step. We all were sleeping or trying too at least. 

At 6:30am, the on call doctor of the weekend came in and checked me and I was a loose 7. Progress. She asked to break my waters as they were bulging and I wasn't really sure but just decided to go for it, to continue to progress. So they broke my water and I felt that warm rush like they described I would. I was excited I actually experienced what it felt like. My waters were clear and she mentioned that my ob was starting his day soon and would stop in and say hi. 

I was really in and out during these hours. I am pretty sure Dr. H came in and said hi and that he would be back around 9am to check me again. I might have been sleeping the next couple of hours until he returned and we checked me and I was an 8.5 already! We were super excited and were definitely in the mindset, hey we are going to have a baby by 12:00 or 1pm forsure as I was steadily progressing. So we all got up and got freshened up around 9:30/10:00. I still was shaking when I would sit up to much, but I put in my contacts and was excited to meet this little guy. Super grateful I was out of pain. 

My doctor came back around 12:00 or 12:30 and checked me and I was a 9 and 3/4. Meaning I just had a lip of my cervix left. He mentioned he would run back to clinic and wanted to see if that lip would progress on it's own and labor down, as the epidural would really help with that to shorten my pushing time. So we waited some more.

My sweet friend Leah was texting verses and I was trying to keep my heart focused on what was coming. Love Cal's ultrasound picture here. 

Now I would say everything from 1pm till I started pushing at 5pm was just unfortunate. No one to blame just unlucky things that made this part of my labor really challenging. So know, I loved my birth experience even though it was impossible at times, I am just relating facts from what I remember that happened. 

Around 2pm I started to feel pressure in my bum. I felt like I wanted to push, yet I was scared. I was scared to start pushing without my doctor there. I couldn't comprehend that it would the normal first time mom least an hour to push a baby out. I literally felt like he would come out in 3 pushes. He just felt so low and pressure was getting more intense. So here my doula and Natalie wanted me to start pushing yet I was afraid that they would make me stop pushing to wait for the doctor....( I had a friend who's nurses held the baby in till the doctor came) and even though I expressed my fears and the nurses promised they would NEVER do that, I just wanted to start with everyone there. So I tried not to push, which didn't work too well. I kept asking for them to get my doctor and the paged him multiple times but he wasn't responding (which is so not like him). Then around 3ish or 3:30ish I spiked a fever, and combined with the babies heartbeat that had been crazy high at times, they were nervous about infection so they made the decision that I had to wait to push a bag of antibiotics for the health of the baby before I could start pushing. So again, we waited. More unlucky things happened, like the antibiotics taking forever to get to me (like it got lost or something). 

What I didn't understand because I was so beyond myself then, was that my doctor would have come if I would have started pushing earlier. Then the unlucky infection started and I was just confused at why my doctor wasn't there yet. I wasn't too aware that all that was going on was normal. I felt like I was being ignored, but again. There was ALOT going on that I just couldn't process at that time. 

So, needless to say. I was yet again emotionally spent. We had mentally thought that the baby would be here by now and we were in the 40+ hours here and my body just felt like it wanted the baby out. I felt like I was going to throw up, had a headache and just wanted to eat something to help with the nausea and I hadn't eaten anything since Saturday 6am ish (can't eat anything but ice chips when you get an epidural) and now it was Monday at 4pm. I cried, "I just want a banana...." to one of my nurses and the sweet girl let me have a banana. I took a bite of a banana and then continued to just cry and get really upset. 

So it was time for some verses and some prayer. We all prayed out loud. I cried out to the Lord to have this happen soon. To give me strength, to not get the shakes again, so many things. That I was so weak and needed Him. I needed Jesus so much here. Matt again was reading me verses, ever so slowly and gently and Karen and Nat either holding my hand or giving my forehead pressure. It was so hard at this time. I was so done, my body new it was time. These images really hit my heart. 

I did feel more calm and peaceful after the prayer. Then by God's grace it was time to push! Also around this time I started to feel incredibly out of my body, I honestly felt like I was high or drunk but I didn't have anything extra in my IV. I really think it was my body starting to shut down and prepare to do what it had to do, on little to nothing left. 
They checked me one last time before pushing. I was still that 9 and 3/4. My doctor pushed that lip back in one of my pushes. I'd have to say pushing was the hardest thing I have ever done. I definitely felt everything at least I think. I completely thought I might not make it through.

I needed to be on oxygen in between each contraction/push. I had a lot of coaching at the beginning and I guess according to my birth team I figured out where to push quickly as I asked for a nurse or my doc to press or add pressure where I needed to bear down. It helped a ton.

Every contraction we had 3 pushes. Man was this way more intense than I thought it would be with an epidural. I thought I would just feel pressure, but I felt everything. I thought I was going to die multiple times. I was pretty direct with my words here. Probably a little scary at the time. So who knows, many of my friends that have had epidurals said they didn't feel much of anything during pushing. It does make me feel nervous and doubt that I would never be able to birth a child naturally as I couldn't imagine the pushing being much worse. But Maybe my epidural was out by then? I do remember my iv feeling like it was pulling out of my wrist when I was trying to grab my legs to push.  Something I will follow up at my 6 week appointment.

This image was the one place that I grabbed Matt's neck almost choking him during one of the last pushes. I realized quickly where my hand was and let go...

Another surprising part for me is that I kept my eyes COMPLETELY shut during every moment of pushing. I just had to stay within. I could hear everyone and was communicating, but I just couldn't look down. Everyone was asking and telling me to look. Again, I just couldn't. Not because I was grossed out to look, but I was SO afraid that he wouldn't be as far out as he felt. Does that make sense? I felt like if I looked down and saw his head any less out, than it felt like I literally would have quit right there and said cut him out. It was that intense for me.

He finally was only a push away and I remember that AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING feeling of having his body fully out. I was done. I feel a little guilt here as I was much more relieved to have the process of labor to be finished, I feel like I barely noticed our baby at first. Ugh. But I suppose that was a natural reaction to my body being under such stress for so long. I pushed our little man out in a little less than an hour.

Then I finally did open my eyes, and Matt said I kept saying "Baby" "Baby".... I am so grateful to have these images as honestly y'all I was so incredibly out of it I don't remember much of anything. 

Now I will just flood you with images and you will get the rest................................................................ 

These two images above are my favorite of me and Mr. brand new Cal. 

There is a whole bunch that happened after I pushed our baby out (infection, iv's, no sleep, the list goes on) that I really do feel like I want to share that experience of our first two weeks as well as the extent of our hospital stay, as we read "birth" stories and really don't necessarily have an idea of the days or weeks that follow. I really do feel like week 1-2 are part of the story as well. Ours were really hard and rough and boy if I would have read someone else's experience after birth I might have not felt impossible or not normal. And to also give you my thoughts on what was essential for the first two weeks and what worked for us. So part 3 will come sometime soon. 

But for now at the end of this post I just want to PRAISE GOD. GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS!!!! Like this image that Natalie took the night of Cal's birth, God is good all the time. HE IS THERE THROUGH the darkness. His Light will shine through. Thank you Jesus for this precious gift of a son. 


Cal Michael's Arrival | Birth Story Part 1

Oh goodness! It's crazy to even sit down and try to write this story. I apologize if it's super long and possibly not that clear, but after 50+ hours of labor things do get a bit fuzzy. I am so grateful to have the images that Natalie took during the experience. Goodness. I have so many thanks for that woman. It will come in it's own post. Alright Cal Michael's Birth Story.....Here we go. It's nuts that it feels so distant already, not even 2 weeks after.

I had been contracting all week. Many a texts to my doula wondering if this was it. I was doing what is sometimes called monkey labor, laboring in the night with time-able contractions during the evenings, then I would lay down and it would stop and I would wake up feeling normal. Well as normal as you can 40+ weeks pregnant.

I woke up on Saturday July 5th my 30th birthday feeling normal pregnant. Tired but excited as one of my dearest friends Natalie Norton was flying in to stay for a couple of days. We never thought that I would still be pregnant when she arrived! We picked Natalie up from the airport and off we went! Little did I know my dearest friends Lara, Emily and Natalie planned a full day of birthday fun for me. With fun little texts and rhymes to follow! How incredibly thoughtful. We started with tea at my favorite place, a manicure and then headed out to lunch at French Meadow where we met my parents.

Once we arrived to the nail salon I realized my contractions were back. Not super close together or painful, just a lot tighter and more intense. See when you have been doing this all week the goal is to ignore it until you know it's different. Which is really stinking hard for a first time mom to hear! Anywhoo of course everyone was right as I found out later yet, I just took note of the contractions and made it through my nails and lunch.

I thought I might of passed my mucous plug at lunch but again wasn't trying to get too excited. After lunch we were headed home to rest a bit. Natalie had barely slept an hour or two before hopping on her flight and of course I was tired too. So we just hung out talked and took a nap. I was still contracting here and there but it was slowing down.

Around 8pm on Saturday we decided to take a walk just her and I. This is when I officially in my brain, I definitely had my first intense and breath stopping contractions, we walked there and back and definitely felt like this might be it. We ran up to the grocery store and got dinner late. I had some sushi that was fantastic, I remember I couldn't talk to the deli person as I was in the middle of contracting. It was hilarious, to me and Natalie at least.

Around 11pm I had my first blood show. This meant business for me, I started shaking because I was excited and nervous and excited again. I did call the hospital and while the person who answered was asking goofy questions that I am sure they have to ask for liability reasons, like do you have an umbilical cord hanging out of your vagina. Um NO. I was hoping I would speak to a triage nurse and talk things out, she just said that I could come in and she would call Labor and Delivery and say I was coming.

Yet, My contractions weren't steady or too incredibly pressure filled or painful, so I was sure I was going to be sent home. So as a team we decided we were going to head to bed and just see what happened. Watched a movie and then all headed to bed as my contractions had really slowed down.

I went downstairs to sleep in our bedroom and Natalie was upstairs in our guest room. When I laid down the contractions started to get a pattern again and much more intense. I texted my doula around 2:50am that I had been having consistent one minute contractions with 6-7 minutes in between. She said to text her back in an hour and let me know if they have continued. I did text her at 4:04am as they had continued and we decided that she would come over the house around 6am. I had woken Natalie up around 4am as I couldn't work through them on my own anymore.

Karen got to the house at 6am and we worked through contractions. My time in btw contractions went from that steady 6-7 minutes back out to about 11 to 12 minutes apart. We stopped tracking them via the app that I have on my phone even. Yet, they were still pretty intense. Also, I went to the bathroom a trillion times on Saturday, some more bloody show/mucous plug each time and definitely when #2 times a trillion. It was hard to go backwards a bit as I really felt like we were moving in the right direction. 


Unfortunately once Karen arrived things slowed down again. We really learned that my body didn't do well with "change" of scenery. It would slow contractions considerably. We did it all in the book, walked stairs, walked outside, squatted. Yet the only thing that seemed to progress me the most was laying down which was the hardest way for me to work through contractions. We labored some more.

Karen was so great with counter pressure and what y'all don't see here is Natalie's amazing encouragement and support. I will touch more on that later, but she was SO much more than a photographer that attended.

We spent from 6am to 2pm laboring around the house, backyard, just wanting for things to get more intense. Mentally this was super hard, as I was doing everything right and it just wasn't going anywhere and I was getting more and more tired. I couldn't eat anymore really after 12pm as I would get super sick after a contraction. So, it was really hard to rest as well because the contractions were intense enough I couldn't sleep through them.

Karen decided that she should maybe head home for a bit and try to keep the house a little quiet and see what would happen. I had a big breakdown here, not because it wasn't the right decision. Just because I wanted to be farther along and I felt like a failure a bit for her leaving. It was like I was doing all this work and then nothing. YET, it was really good she left for a bit because it gave my emotions a chance to just release and I lost it bawling with Matt on the ground. He was reading me bible verses and we were crying out in prayer. I just LOVE this set of images. It just shows the amazing servant nature my husband has and how he was there for me in every moment.

Like I shared on Instagram, these were the first moments I really wasn't sure I could do it. I hadn't slept or eaten or really rested and mentally was so down and frustrated.  See at that moment, I wasn't sure I could do it. I wasn't sure I could make it through. I couldn't stop weeping. I was so weak, tired and needed Jesus. (who knew I had 33hrs left) 

How many moments in life do we feel that way? Feeling like it's impossible, insurmountable. The beauty in this image is the story that it tells. That I can look back on it, 14 days later holding a beautiful baby boy. 

I DID make it through, with God's grace and the most beautiful team that helped me birth our son. 

Ok back to the story here right? Fast forward about 4-5 hours. While Karen was gone, I spent most of the time in the upstairs bed listening to Hypnobabies with Matt, Natalie and Mya by my side. I remember just looking at Matt when I could in between contractions needing for him to be right there. To hold my hand and just be there.

To be completely honest, I wasn't completely sold on Hypnobabies. I have had some friends successfully rock it out. Talk about just pressure and no pain. I just wasn't sure it was for me. I definitely listened to the pregnancy tracks and really loved the positive words and just relaxing pieces of the tracks. I just wasn't too keen that there wasn't a spiritual-faith piece. So I would often change words and add Jesus or "His will" to the repetition.

It wasn't a huge part of my plan to use the tracks, but goodness did they really work for me for a good chunk of labor. I was seriously so surprised. I was able to work through a contraction differently more relaxed. 

The ONLY thing that wasn't too fun, actually terrible, but the main birthing track to listen to during birth was magic, but SOMETHING at about 24ish minutes every time I listened would kick me out of hypnosis and I often woke up mid contraction writhing in pain. It was really hard. But definitely made me give the hypnobabies some props and credit for being a tool during labor.

All this time was a big blur for me as it was more and more and more intense. This text roll between Natalie and Karen was so good to see and read. They worked as SUCH a team to support me. My friend Lauren came by to braid my sweet hair for birth, only for us to get into the shower a couple of hours later to try to work through contractions differently and ruin it (sorry Lauren! I LOVE YOU). I was getting a contraction everytime I "got up" from somewhere. So we focused on that. Only 3 contractions per position and then change. Karen was gearing up to come on back. 

I think I had gotten back into bed for a couple contractions with hypnobabies just as the sun was setting, as my back was getting really tired and I seem to again progress the best in bed. Then around 9pm I awoke at that darn 24 minute mark, in a TERRIBLE INTENSE contraction. Waking up in the middle is so hard cause you can't prepare with breath or anything. 

Shortly after this I had my second HUGE breakdown. Little did I know my contractions were now 4 minutes apart and intense. I had my first scream, "I can't do this" "I want to be done" "Please help me"
That was a sure sign it was time to go to the hospital for Matt and Natalie. We were going to have Karen come back to the house but it was quickly decided for her to meet us at the hospital. We packed up, I sat in the front seat with my hypnotracks and we headed out to the hospital. There aren't any pictures of this time because I think it was mass chaos, since I was so emotional and needed to go now. 

Our biggest concern was that I hadn't done well with transition into new environments. We were all afraid that I would totally stall out of labor when we got to the hospital. But it was time, off we headed there, at hour 26. 

The second part of the birth story will come in the next post! High five if you have made it this far and don't feel bad a minute if you just scrolled through the pics. 

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