I called the hospital to let them know we would be coming in soon - they wanted me in as soon as my water broke to get antibiotics because I was GBS+. I took a quick shower and mentally ran through all of the things we needed to grab that we hadn't put in our hospital bags. I called my parents to let them know and before hanging up the phone my mom asked how I was feeling.... I said excited but nervous! I was actually getting ready to go push this baby out of me!
For the first 30 minutes after my water broke - I didn't feel any contractions. I was nervous that labor wouldn't really start for a while and that they might want to give me drugs to help get things started. But thankfully, right before we left the house, I had a nice strong contraction and they continued to get stronger on the way to the hospital. They were about 5 minutes apart and they were different than any of the ones I had felt in the past few weeks. They were strong, painful and I felt them all the way into my thighs.
It was 6:30am when we got to the hospital. The midwife came in to check me and found that I was 6cm dilated and 100% effaced. She was very excited for me and said the baby would probably be here before lunch! I was a little skeptical because I knew I was 5cm all last week so at this point I wasn't too convinced that my labor was going to be fast, but I was hopeful. We talked about our birth plan with the Nurse and we all agreed that no pain meds would be offered to me unless I requested them.
I spent the first hour laying in the bed, getting the IV antibiotics and monitoring Reaghan to make sure she was handling labor without any stress. The contractions were still about 4-5 minutes apart at this point. I was breathing through them fine and still smiling, joking and conversing with Mark and the Nurses during and between. Mark and I took that time to pray with each other for a safe labor and delivery for me and the baby and strength to get through the day. After the dose of antibiotics had finished I was able to get up and move around so I decided to sit on the birthing ball for a while. The contractions started getting closer together, about 3 minutes apart, and a little harder to breathe through each time. Our labor and delivery nurse was fantastic at giving me tips to get through each contraction. She wasn't in the room the whole time, leaving Mark and I to work through labor together which is what we wanted, but when she did come in she helped remind me not to tense my shoulders, not to furrow my brow, and keep my groans low. She reminded me to relax and breathe into the contractions instead of tensing up and keeping Reaghan from dropping.
At about 9:00 the midwife came back in and suggested that I try to get up off of the ball so that labor would keep progressing. I was hesitant to do it because I felt like I was able to handle the pain really well sitting on the ball, but I didn't want things to stall either so I got up and tried different positions. I tried quadruped on the bed, but that lasted all of 5 minutes. The pain was really intense in that position and I couldn't breathe through it so I got up and just stood at the edge of the bed. I remember thinking briefly at that point during a contraction that I didn't think I could do this for several more hours because the pain was intensifying with each contraction. Thankfully Mark was there with encouraging words, hand squeezes and back rubs to spur me on.
We decided to walk the halls around 9:45. The Nurse told us to walk around for 20 minutes or so and then come back to see how I had progressed. As soon as we started walking the halls the contractions became 100x more intense then they had been. Mark would hold me up as I tried to relax in to the contraction and not fight it. About 5 minutes after we started walking around I suddenly had the urge to bear down during a contraction. This was the strangest sensation - I read about the bodies urge to push during labor and to follow your natural urge but I guess you just never know what to expect until you actually feel it. We walked by the nurses station and let them know what I was feeling. She took us back into the room and when she checked me I was 9 1/2 cm dilated!
It was 10:05am when the nurse called the midwife and the nursery nurses to let them know I would be pushing in about 20 minutes. I remember thinking theres no way I can wait 20 minutes to push! My body wants to push now! I was sweating and shaking through each contraction and the nurse was making another call in about 5 minutes to try and hurry the midwife in. Unfortunately the midwife was caught up with another patient so they had to page the Dr. on call. With each contraction I wanted to push harder and the Nurse was exceptional at coaching me to follow my body's urge but complete each push gradually to allow things to slowly stretch and avoid tearing. (Thankfully Reaghan was doing great through the whole process!) The next 45 minutes were a complete whirlwind. The nurse and Mark coached me through most of the pushing. My legs were cramping, my throat hurt, and my lips were chapped, I was getting pretty tired. With contraction I tried to push 3 times but often the 3rd time I couldn't finish the full push. Thankfully the Nurse and Mark provided excellent feedback - I needed that positive reinforcement that I was doing a good job. Just making eye contact and getting a smile and head nod from Mark was what I needed to keep going. Since this was my first time giving birth each new phase of pushing was a learning process but also completely natural. I knew were getting close to the end because I could feel a distinct fullness as she was beginning to crown. I got excited when the nurse and Mark could see her head and they told me she had hair! I was ready to get her out!
But just when we were getting close to the end the nurse had me stop pushing during contractions to try and wait for the Dr. to get to the room. That was the most difficult part of the whole process. My body was naturally pushing during the contraction and I had to fight the urge to help it out. Not fun! I knew I had to start pushing her out soon and the nurse assured me she could deliver Reaghan without the Dr. and I totally believed her! I wasn't concerned about who was going to "catch" Reaghan as much as I was with just getting her out of me! The Dr. did finally come in at the midnight hour though to be the one to actually deliver Reaghan. With a big push her head was out - they had to hold us there and cut her cord because it had become wrapped around her neck and the Dr. couldn't get it around her head, but once that was done I pushed one more time and she was out!
11:05am Reaghan took her first breath! Only 4 1/2 hours after getting to the hospital and 5 1/2 hours after the whole process of active labor started! How awesome is that? Especially for my first time!
While the pain of child birth was excruciating, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever done or experienced. Nothing in my life has even come close to that moment of reaching down to grab my baby and pull her up on to my chest - finally seeing her beautiful face and head of hair after carrying her for the past 9 months. It was overwhelming. Mark even teared up a bit! (and he's not one given over to emotions easily.)
Unfortunately I only got to hold her on my chest for about 10 seconds before they took her from me because she wasn't making any sounds. She was breathing fine, but not crying so they took her over to the table to give her oxygen and clean her up a bit for some stimulation. Praise the Lord she found her cry in a few short minutes and they brought her back to me! We got to enjoy skin to skin contact for the following hour and some special one on one time as a new family of 3 before my family came in to see her.
They made it to the hospital just as she was being born! The nurses waited to get her further cleaned up and weighed until my family came in, so my mom got to be a part of seeing Reaghan's first washing and my sister got the chance to take some pictures. I couldn't wait to see how much she weighed! Her official stats were 8lbs 0oz and 20.5 inches long.
I was so happy to have my family there right after her birth. We got to tell the whole story and Reaghan received so much love and kisses in her first few hours of life from many hands...
We spent the following 2 days in the hospital. We didn't sleep for the next 48 hours following her birth. I tried the first night but I couldn't stop holding her and staring at her precious face.
|Midnight photo :)|
It was the most invigorating thing I have ever done. Only because it is the only other physically demanding experience I have put my body through, the labor process was much like running a marathon. I needed mental strength to help push me through physically. And just like when crossing the finish line of a race, I knew instantly after giving birth that I wanted to do it again. Many more times.
Overall I couldn't have asked for a better labor and delivery experience. I was able to make it through child birth naturally like I wanted, Reaghan was born healthy, there were no complications, and we received the extra blessing of a quick labor process. I can't thank the Lord enough for the beautiful and memorable experience.