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. 


  1. I am CRYING!!! Gina you had a baby!!! Ahh!!! I can't get over this miracle. God is so good!

  2. Most touching birth story I've ever read. Congrats a million times over! I love the picture of his little naked bottom side when he was first born!

  3. Those post epidural shakes are the worst. I still shudder thinking of them. Sending so much love!

  4. This was so beautiful to read! My first labor was only about half as long as yours, but I still VIVIDLY remember (and it was 4.5 years and 1 other baby since then) the feelings of helplessness, and I was also SO SO very out of it during the 3 hours of pushing. I also just felt a HUGE sense of relief that she was OUT and I was finally done, and not so much of any immediate euphoria at all. I just wanted a nap.

    To give you some hope, with my 2nd baby, I only pushed for 12 minutes.

    I'm glad you are writing about the first 2 weeks in such an honest way - mine were HARD too with my first baby, and it's so nice to know that you're not alone.

  5. gina i love your birth story! the way you are so honest is so so beautiful. cannot wait to read the rest. and these pictures are amazing! that natalie is a special girl.

  6. Wow, Gina!!! Such a blessing to be able to read this story that is so near and dear to your heart. Praise God for finally answering your prayers!!!!

  7. God is so good! Love that you were honest in your words. So often people tell their birth stories and make it sound easy. But you included all of it and I totally appreciate that!

  8. Please tell me that long comment I left published?

  9. Arggh....well, here it is again....
    I am so grateful to finally get the peace and quiet (at 3 am) to read your blog! I want you to know that I was thinking of you and praying for you when you were in labor! I was so grateful for your and Natalie's online posts and updates! I appreciate the honor you give the process of birth by sharing your story! I love that you have the photos and also, I love knowing you had Natalie there as a supporting and loving friend! Those photos are treasures because those moments are easily forgotten, yet the photos are reminders of the sacred sacrifices made prior to the miracle of Cal's birth! I love you and I'm so happy for you, Matt and for Cal having such great parents! I am here for you anytime, to listen or support! I know that this time for you is a whole, new season of life and that things will never be the same! It's all totally different now and while joyous, there are times it's not easy to navigate, because it's new. I know you are guided and comforted by the Lord, too. Just know you have a friend here as well!


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