On May 13th, the feast day of Our Lady of Fatima and the day before Isaiah’s due date, Jeff and I decided to enjoy the beautiful Colorado weather and hike up Green Mountain with hopes of walking baby boy out. Following our hike we went to our celebrate Our Lady at our parish. I felt great and way too “normal” to go into labor. I had a feeling this kid was going to take his sweet time.
On May 14th — Mother’s Day and Isaiah’s due date — I still felt great so we decided to make the trip up to Greeley to celebrate Mother’s Day with Jeff’s family. The day came and went, and still no sign of baby boy’s arrival.
Jeff and I spent the next few days with high anticipation of when Isaiah would decide to make his debut. Jeff worked from home and I busied myself with cleaning and art projects.
On May 18th, I painted all day. Throughout the day I felt different: uncomfortable and “crampy.” Jeff suggested that we try coaxing Isaiah out with spicy Indian food that night. We enjoyed one another’s company, our final date with Isaiah still inside the womb! Later that night our friends, Emily Martinez and Mary Kate VanderWoude, brought some DQ ice cream over and we watched Hitch. I continued to have slight discomfort and cramps throughout the evening, and felt quite giddy. I knew Isaiah was coming soon. Little did I know that he was already making his way.
That night I slept through my pre-labor (slept about 5.5 hours) and awoke at 6 A.M. to go to the bathroom and noticed a little blood — a sign that this could be the real deal. I continued to second guess myself and wondered if I was actually going into labor, so I took a long hot shower, got ready for the day, drank a lot of water, and tried to stay relaxed. I was hesitantly excited, and although I wasn’t sure if this was actually “it,” I texted a few friends and family to ask for prayers. “I think this is the day!!!” I downed a banana and a heap of almond butter, knowing I was going to need some energy.
By 8 A.M. I was having consistent contractions lasting 30 seconds long and about three minutes apart. I texted our doula, Sarah, to let her know. I had an appointment for an ultrasound scheduled at 10:30 A.M. with a doctor at Bella Natural Women’s Care, but Sarah recommended that I call them to see if they wanted me to go into their office or not. I spoke with a nurse (Regina) on the phone and she said I needed to make my way to Swedish Hospital instead. (I tested positive for GBS and they wanted to ensure they could get two doses of antibiotics in me before Isaiah’s birth.) I was bummed because I wanted to labor at home as long as I could, but after having Jeff call the Bella again to try to convince them to let us stay at home longer, we agreed…but we took our time. :)
Jeff made eggs with onions and feta cheese, and I ate them as I danced around the house through the contractions. We left for the hospital at 11:10 A.M. It had snowed the day before so there was snow on the ground as we drove to Swedish Hospital — snow in May!
When we drove up to the hospital valet and began unloading the car, I went through a contraction. Noticing, the valet attendant told Jeff, “Oh man, you better get her in there.” I still wondered if I was even actually in labor.
They checked me in and I came to realize that there were no more rooms with birthing tubs available, and my heart sunk. The tub was what I had counted on to help me labor naturally, but the nurse did a good job of convincing me one would be available soon, knowing all too well that it really wasn’t true. HAHA! The nurse read over my birth plan and she assured me that they could accommodate all my birth plan wishes. (I had written down my “dream natural birth” knowing that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan.) Dr. Bauer checked my status and I was 4 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and Isaiah was at -2 station. It WAS the real deal! Sarah, our doula, arrived at noon with Starbucks: an Americano for Jeff and a dirty chai for me (although I only enjoyed a few sips).
At 1:18 P.M. my IV was finally in after the fifth try and a third person — an anesthesia doctor. Getting my IV for the antibiotics was the most anxiety and stress producing part of the whole labor. (After the birth, my arms and hands were black and blue with bruises.) They did the first round of antibiotics and put a port in so that I could move freely. I hated looking at the needle in my arm so Sarah covered it with a hand rag and tape. Sarah and Jeff offered me lots of water throughout the day and I was even able to eat a few bites of a turkey sandwich Sarah got for me.
Jeff and I walked rounds around the hospital as I worked through my contractions. Sarah set up our hospital room with electric candles, an essential oil diffuser (diffusing Jasmine), dimmed the lights, and set up visualization pictures around the room (quotes and pretty pictures inspiring me to continue with my plan to go natural).
We got back to the room and at 4:09 P.M. Dr. Bauer checked me again — since she was going off duty. I was 5cm dilated, 100% effaced, and Isaiah was +1. I was slightly discouraged because I had hoped things would move along more quickly, but Sarah ensured me that this was great progression. (She was a great encourager along the way. She later admitted that she thought at this point I’d be there late into the night before Isaiah would arrive.)
Sarah and the nurse suggested that I try the bathtub. I was hesitant because 1) I didn’t want to use the tub too early in labor and 2) the tub was like a motel 6-smallest-tub-ever tub. But I tried it anyway. It was the worst. The tub was so short that the water didn't even come up to my belly. I stayed in there for a few contractions but I was so uncomfortable I knew I needed to get out and relax. When Jeff was alone with me in the bathroom I told him, “I’m scared, I don’t know if I can handle this.” But he and Sarah continued to encourage me and convinced me that I could.
Funny side note, at this point, Sarah pulled Jeff aside and said, “Emily is going to start getting extra sensitive, she’ll tell your breath stinks and so on, so just be ready.” Five minutes later as I was working through a contraction I said, “Jeff, your breath smells like coffee!!!” Chuckling, he went and brushed his teeth.
At 5:08 P.M. I felt my body telling me that I needed to relax every muscle, so I laid down in bed with hopes of getting some rest. As I worked through one contraction I let out a loud screech and the nurse came running in. She recommended that in order to keep a low tone (high tones close sphincters, low tones open them), Jeff should begin humming in a low tone, and I match that tone throughout each contraction. As we did this Jeff held my hand and stroked my forehead and I entered into a mediative state. Time flew from this point on.
At 5:27 P.M. Sarah noticed that I was grunting at the end of my breaths and called the nurse. (There was a change in shift and my new nurse was sweet, but quite young. I remember being a little surprised when I saw her.)
At 5:51 P.M. I felt the urge to bear down. I continued to labor with Jeff in calm, low tones, and I was encouraged by Sarah to let my body do what felt natural. The nurse called Dr. Hodack who was still at home. (Less than two hours prior she had been told that I was only at a 5 cm dilation, so she assumed it would be a while until Isaiah was born.)
At 5:56 P.M. the new nurse checked me and I was complete. Sarah continued to encourage me to do what my body wanted, but no one was coaching me to push.
At 6:11 P.M. I was still laboring calmly, but was experiencing involuntary pushing. My body was naturally doing all the work, and I just rode the wave! The new nurse said, “We need to call in a back up doctor because every time she pushes a head comes out!” Jeff took a look below and noticed a “black bubble” emerging. Sarah calmly told him, “Jeff you may want to back up because that is not a head, but her water, and it’s going to explode…”
At 6:20 P.M. a back-up doctor arrived. She kindly introduced herself as I was working through contractions, but I hardly noticed her. My low humming was constant as contractions were so close together and overlapping. Just as she got situated, my water broke all over the new doctor. The reason Jeff noticed the “black bubble” was because there was meconium in the water. Isaiah had gotten stressed enough that he went to the bathroom en utero, which can be alarming. A back-up NICU nurse was called for delivery, but a few minutes later Dr. Hodack (the doctor I was praying would deliver Isaiah!) arrived in her street clothes.
At 6:29 P.M. Isaiah was born after three coached pushes. Dr. Hodack placed him on my chest. I was in complete shock, and Jeff wept. :) His 1 minute APGAR was a 9/9. Dr. Hodack asked if I wanted pitocin. I asked if she thought I needed it, and she said that I should be fine without it and that they could always provide it for me later if needed. She allowed the umbilical cord to pulsate then asked Jeff to cut the cord. I delivered the placenta (the nurse put it on ice for “The Fruit of the Womb” to pick up to encapsulate), and Dr. Hodack sewed my tear. The breastfeeding latch happened well with the coaching of Sarah. Jeff and I enjoyed the golden hour together with Isaiah on my chest.
Sarah ordered us dinner before the hospital diner closed. I had a turkey sandwich, fries, broccoli, a chocolate chip cookie and celebratory orange juice. Jeff had a ribeye meal with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Soon after I held Isaiah as the nurse pushed me to the recovery wing. As we were chatting she told me, “That was in my top two favorite births to witness,” and I was a proud mama.
Our postpartum day nurse, Lynn, was amazing. She was a motherly figure who taught Jeff and I so much about the practicals of parenting a newborn. My parents and brother, Nick, came to visit and met Isaiah around 9:30 P.M. Jeff’s family visited the next day and Isaiah also got a bath.
Two days later, a Sunday, a kind man from St. Thomas Moore provided a communion service for us at the hospital. Soon after we took our baby boy home.