Aiden Grace: A Birth Story

Sunday, August 30, 2015

As I sit here with my precious daughter sleeping on my chest, I want to remember everything from her beautiful arrival. With that being said, I don't plan to leave any details out - you have been warned. I want to remember everything.

So here goes nothing...

I always wondered how I would know what contractions felt like and everyone told me "you'll just know!" I have to admit, that wasn't the case with me. I had some pretty consistent cramping on Saturday (8/22), but wouldn't let myself get excited about it. When they started coming and going is when I thought "Hm, maybe these are contractions?" Turns out I was right. They started coming pretty regularly on Saturday evening, eventually getting as close as every 7 minutes around 2am. I decided to try to sleep in between them and they slowed down to about an hour in between. And then they fizzled out by late Sunday morning. We were discouraged, but rested knowing that God had a perfect timeline for her arrival, and it would happen. Adam also kept me in good spirits by using a little baby voice and saying things like "Mom, I just need to finish up my fingernails!" or "Mommmmm, I think my little legs need to grow a littttttle longer."

Regardless, trying to stay positive is easier said than done. Adam and I spent Sunday trying to keep our mind off of it - getting out of the house, walking around The Avenue, getting ice cream - and then the contractions started again late Sunday afternoon. I tried to sleep through them and not get excited, but they started coming pretty regularly and painful. Adam got up around 1am to help me out (Best Coach, EVER is the understatement of the century) and we were officially a go! 

We labored at home all day on Monday, and finally headed to the hospital at 7pm when the contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and pretty painful, but still bearable. We had to stop multiple times on the way from the car to triage to breathe through them, but we made it without a wheelchair! When we got to triage, we were told all the rooms were full and we'd have to wait in the Waiting Room. I could have died! I was not going to sit in the Waiting Room with eager families while Adam and I are trying to work through contractions! Luckily, the nurses noticed that I was in pretty active labor and were nice enough to just go ahead and put me in a Labor & Delivery Room where we found out I was 3cm dilated. The contractions were painful at this point, but bearable. However, when they were getting me checked into my room, I almost lost it. Adam and I were trying to work through contractions while they were poking me with an IV, asking my family history, etc. I almost started crying out of panic. On top of all that, I only wanted to be hooked up to the fetal heart monitor for 15 min/hour, but little one decided to be dramatic and her heart rate dropped a couple times right when we checked in. My midwife didn't feel comfortable letting me be off of the monitor for 45 minutes/hour, so we had to do 20 minutes on/20 minutes off. This was a bummer because it really restricted our movement during contractions - and it was uncomfortable having to be hooked up to two different things. The good thing was that Adam could tell when I was coming down from a contraction, so he could count me off. 

At one point I threw up, and the nurse told us that was a good sign that I was transitioning. (By the way, we did not like that nurse. She wasn't helpful and was honestly kind of rude. Luckily, we didn't have to deal with her too much. And she actually ended up coming in the clutch during delivery when she grabbed my phone and just started taking a bunch of pictures.) Baby girl's heart rate continued to keep the nurses on edge, so they ended up putting me on an IV of saline to get her to stay active. They wanted to see her heart rate reacting to the contractions, and she really wasn't. Another item on our Birth Plan that was taken away - no IV.

After a long night of laboring, my midwife checked me again Tuesday morning and I was 8cm dilated! My waters were bulging and she accidentally broke them while she was checking me. If I wasn't in pain, I'm sure I would have been annoyed, but at that point I was like "Ok, this is progress!" By the way, I had no idea how much liquid that was going to be. I'm pretty sure I could have filled up a kiddie pool.

Finding out I was 8cm dilated gave us a second wind - we figured we'd be meeting our daughter pretty soon! Adam and I took The Bradley Method classes, so we were pretty informed on what was going on with my body to cause the pain, relaxation methods to handle it and our options at the hospital. Adam was the greatest coach of all time. THE GREATEST. I could write a book about how amazing he was. If I wasn't in so much pain, I would have cried from how much I loved him during those moments. Now, let's talk about that pain. At this point, it's Tuesday morning, I've been in active labor since late Sunday night and haven't had a night's sleep since Friday. Specifically, I'd been in transitional labor for most of Monday night. Typically, this part of labor is supposed to be pretty short, because it's the most intense part as your body preps to start pushing. My contractions were on top of each other, with no breaks in between (unless you call heartburn while coming down from a contraction a break). I couldn't even catch my breath. Adam and I tried all sorts of positions to bring some relief, and he did such an amazing job of trying to get me to relax and not tense up during the contractions. Part of the Bradley Method is "accepting the pain" - which I did, LOUD AND CLEAR - but we just weren't making any progress and I was in an amount of pain I didn't know could exist. I literally thought I was going to have a brain aneurysm or heart attack from the pain. It was absolutely indescribable. I finally caved and told Adam I just couldn't do it anymore. I knew being in such an agonizing state wasn't helping baby girl out either. All my screaming and tensing up was probably scaring her! 

Because we were at the hospital for numerous shift changes, we were now working with Candice, the most amazing nurse of all time. We LOVED her. Adam went out in the hallway and asked her about the pain options we had available. He's adorable and did this without me knowing (leaving me to scream by myself), so when she came back in I asked her the same question. She wanted to check my progress before we made any decisions. As if the pain wasn't enough to push me to get drugs, after about 6 hours I was still 8cm. We gave ourselves an hour to think over the options, and decided to get an IV of Fentanyl. I was told this wouldn't take away the pain of the contractions, but would take the edge off and give me a "drunk" feeling. I don't know if it's because I was too far gone, but it did absolutely nothing. We decided shortly thereafter to move forward with an epidural around 1:45pm. The first time Candice looked at the machine and asked if I felt that contraction, I got tears in my eyes. I didn't feel it!

After receiving an epidural, you get a catheter put in. (Labor and childbirth is glamorous! But not as glamorous as the fact that I had already peed on my hospital bed multiple times during labor. The pain is real, people.) When Candice put my catheter in, she also checked my progress. In the short time since receiving the epidural, I had progressed to 9.5cm and she could feel her head! She said it's because I was no longer so tense and baby was able to make her way down. (Bless her for saying that, regardless if it's true.)

Now that we were out of pain, Adam and I were able to rest for a few hours. Well, Adam rested. I was too excited knowing we would be meeting our baby girl so soon!

Beth, the midwife on duty and one of my favorites, came in around 6pm, we did a few pushes and she said she'd be back in about an hour so we could really start pushing. During that hour, baby decided to flip sunny side up, and I started feeling intense back labor through my epidural. Luckily, it was still nothing near the earlier pain I had been in - and I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel! Adam massaged my back with a tennis ball while we stared at the clock and waited for Beth to come back. During this time, our dear Candice's shift was over! We were all so sad she wouldn't be there for the birth, but we were passed on to another great nurse, Crystal.

Crystal came in around 7:30 to get the pushing started! It was just the three of us in the room when things got a little crazy. I was a couple pushes in when I heard baby's heart rate drop dramatically on the machine. I looked at Crystal, who had calmly pulled out her phone and was saying some code. I kid you not, within 20 seconds the room filled up. Beth (our midwife), Dr. Tackitt (the OB on call), and an entire crew of nurses were suddenly surrounding us. They tipped my bed back, flipped me on my side and strapped oxygen onto my face. While that was happening, Dr. Tackitt (who announced himself as the Crotch Doctor - a much needed moment of humor) was busy trying to move baby girl into a better position. This whole time, Adam stayed right in my face keeping me calm. (You guys, I'm telling you. I'm contemplating renting him out to be a birthing coach for other people. He was so amazing.) As quickly as it all started, it was over. Her heart rate was back up, Dr. Tackitt excused himself and Beth told me she was confident we were in a good place to keep pushing.

The tricky part about pushing with an epidural is it's hard to tell when I was having a contraction. I was never keen on the idea of having a mirror to watch her be born, but Beth brought one out anyway and I'm so glad she did. It really helped me visualize what I needed to be doing, and gave me the extra strength to push. Adam was not planning to watch any part of her birth other than from the view at my shoulders. Once the mirror was brought out, that went out the window. Lucky for him, the oxygen mask was still right there - so he took it upon himself to take a couple deep breaths with it during the pushing process. Might I add that pushing itself should be an Olympic sport. I really don't think I would have had the strength to push her out if I hadn't received the epidural. And with all the man handling they had to do when her heart rate dropped, I'm pretty sure the pain would have been the end of me. On top of all that, I had a 102 fever the whole time.

After an hour and a half of pushing (which felt like 10 minutes),  Aiden Grace was born at 9:09pm! I'll never forget Beth saying "Grab her!" to me as she came out. There she was. Our perfect little girl. I immediately put her on my chest and it just didn't even feel real! We were able to wait until her umbilical cord stopped pulsing before Adam cut it (look, one thing from our birth plan went right!), and then they had to take her to the warming table. She had a ton of mucous in her lungs so she was having a hard time catching her breath. Nothing serious, but something they had to take care of (Her APGAR scores were 8 and 9). Adam went with her and I could see them the whole time, which was nice. I'll never forget the way Adam cried and just kept staring at her.

During all that, Beth delivered my placenta (which was almost as stubborn as Aiden) and stitched me up. Turns out Aiden was in a very strange position which is what led to such a long, painful labor. She basically came out ear first. Beth assured me my next kid would slide right out. (Ha!)

As I said, Adam and I took 12 weeks of Bradley Method classes to ensure we had the natural birth experience we so badly wanted. We were cocky enough to tell people it was either all natural or emergency C-section, meds were not an option. Oh, silly us! Just another reminder of how humbling pregnancy and labor are. I'm proud to say that I don't care that nothing went according to our plan, because I know it went according to His perfect plan. I don't regret taking the classes - I'm so very glad we did. We were prepared, informed and did all we could, but at the end of the day we knew nothing about this birth (or pregnancy, for that matter) was in our control. I wouldn't change one thing, because we received the most precious gift in exchange.

Aiden Grace Baker
August 25, 2015
6lbs 2.8oz
20 inches

Here are a few of the pictures the nurse took right after her birth. I'm so grateful to her for these precious memories.

Holding on to Daddy's finger.

Our first moments together after the chaos.

Crystal and Beth - there aren't words to describe how thankful we are.

She definitely knows her Daddy!

There you have it. That's how we welcomed our sweet miracle into this world, at exactly 41 weeks. Now, I'm going to go back to smothering her with kisses and breathing in her sweet smell.

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