A Birth Story: Bringing Ira into the World

The following is a factual and detailed narrative account of the birth story of Ira Stephen:

From my journal on February 19...

"Henrik has been on an antibiotic since Monday for another bad ear infection and his overall health has been declining, not improving, so Dr. B wanted us to get a chest x-ray. Devin and I met at DuPont hospital around 1 PM to get this done. While we waited for an hour or so I noticed I was having contractions that were forming an 8-10 minute pattern, but didn't think much of it. I left the hospital to head over for my 38 week appointment with Dr. Stroud at 3:30. He informed me I was dilated about 4 cm and 90% effaced. I had been having a lot of cramping and contracting the past couple weeks but was still surprised to be dilated that much. After the appointment, contractions picked up and continued every 5-6 minutes for the next few hours. Devin made dinner for me and I started to do odds and ends I wanted to get done before the baby. I had planned to make curried quinoa bowls with cauliflower and chicken sausage so that's what Dev made for us...so good!

When I got home from my appointment I had some spotting (probably from being checked) and started losing the mucus plug. This was the point where I actually started to believe I could be in early labor. I really thought I had more time, even though I always knew the calendar due date of March 4 couldn't be right from my calculations (my calculations put my due date as March 1), I really didn't expect to go this early. (Henrik was born at 41 weeks.) Devin took Henrik (who is doing better but did have x-ray results of either bronchitis or viral pneumonia) to his parent's so they wouldn't haven't to come over during the night if we needed to go to the hospital. I was a little emotional about him leaving and also feeling like it was all happening too soon. I finally packed my hospital bag. After this contractions backed off substantially to 9-10 minutes apart (I wasn't keeping super close track of them because they weren't getting painful). I called the midwife who was on-call and said maybe we wouldn't be coming in after all and decided to just go to bed. Labor definitely appears to be starting but I think it's going to be a longer process (how right I was!)."

I woke up Friday morning with zero contractions and felt somewhat back to normal. If I hadn't known how dilated I was I probably wouldn't have thought much of it, but knowing that, I was still convinced this baby would be born in the next couple days. Friday morning since Devin's parents had Henrik, I met Leah at Panera for breakfast and then we went mall walking to see if we could get things going. Walking was painful and made me really crampy, but did nothing to start up contractions again. Devin decided to work from home, it was nice to have him around. Mid-afternoon when it seemed nothing would be happening, he went and got Henrik back and we tried to just settle in for a normal evening.

Saturday morning (21st) I walked up the street in fresh snow to get my hair cut and then late morning contractions started back up. I made plans to meet my sister Molly for coffee around 1:00. Regular contractions continued the remainder of the day, but never really got super close together or very painful. Again, I never really timed them, I was more waiting to start feeling the pain that signified things were really in motion. We decided to send Henrik back to Devin's parents for the night. I woke up around 3 AM Sunday with contractions that finally felt different (aka painful). I got up and ate something and walked around a bit. The contractions picked up and despite not being super consistent, some of them got pretty close together. So, knowing I had to be past 4 cm now and was having painful contractions we decided to go to the hospital. This whole time I had been texting with my doula. She met us at the hospital around 5 AM. Of course, as soon as we left for the hospital the contractions backed off. By the time we were in triage, they were about 8-10 min apart. I was dilated "almost 5" and still 90% effaced. The nurse called the midwife and she gave us the option of walking to see if things would pick back up or just going home. (Later that day we would be asked by nurses why in the world we were sent home when I was 5 cm :)

Heading to the hospital the first time. 

The three of us (myself, Devin, and Kristin the doula) took one lap around the L&D area at Parkview and I quickly realized I was just annoyed and tired and wanted to go home and sleep more than I wanted to try to have a baby. My doula agreed there was no reason to try and force anything, especially on low sleep. So we went home, slept for a few hours and then decided to go up to Devin's parents to spend time with Henrik. At this point, several friends and family knew I was in early labor so I was having to respond to a lot of texts with "nope, no baby" or "leaving hospital contractions backed off". I was feeling annoyed. It's not that I was desperate for this baby to come, but I knew he was coming, just slowly, so I was ready to get the show on the road. The biggest frustration was what to do with Henrik. For three nights now we had to make the decision of whether or not to keep him at home or send him to Devin's parents and it was getting old. I think if it weren't for that element, I would have been more content to just chill at home and wait for things to develop.

Around noon on Sunday (at Devin's parent's house) I took a couple tablespoons of castor oil after discussing pros/cons with my doula. We felt okay about doing this because my body was clearly ready to give birth. Around 1:00 I took a 1.5 hour nap and at about 3:30 PM starting having hard, close together contractions. When I realized I had just had 3 pretty hard contractions in 10 minutes I definitely started to wonder, but this wasn't the first time contractions had gotten close together so I kind of blew it off. I think when labor finally kicked in for good it was going to go fast regardless, so it's hard to say how much the castor oil played into it. My doula said it usually works faster so she wasn't sure it really had that much of an affect.

At this point contractions continued to get longer and more painful and closer together, but I still wasn't convinced we should go to the hospital. Then, the castor oil kicked in so I had to spend some time in the bathroom (which I knew was part of the deal). So, here I am in my in-laws bathroom having horribly painful contractions that were taking me to my hands and knees, but then feeling unsure of what to do because what if they were stomach pains from the oil? I kind of froze at this point. I think I spent about an hour laboring in their bathroom...an hour of very hard labor. By the end of that hour I was starting to cry through contractions and telling Devin that I couldn't do it. The word 'epidural' was starting to float around in my foggy brain...labor hurts. :)

Devin insisted we leave for the hospital, to which I quickly agreed, knowing that if I was crying spontaneously through the contraction I was most likely in transition. It looked really hard to go put shoes on and have to sit down in the car (the only way I was getting through contractions was on my hands and knees or standing) but I knew it had to be done. I texted my doula that we were going and I quickly ran downstairs and said a tearful goodbye to Henrik and my in-laws and we flew out the door.

The drive to the hospital was miserable because the last thing I wanted to be doing was sitting or laying down. Devin drove faster than usual. Thankfully his parent's live about 10 minutes closer to the hospital than we do. I had three contractions en route to the hospital and the one I had as we pulled into the parking lot was also the first small urge to push. We left our car running with a door open at the entrance of the birthplace. As we walked up to reception I started having another contraction and dropped to my hands and knees in front of her desk. I'm sure the people in the lobby enjoyed all of this. I spewed information about my doctor and name and how I was here this morning. She calmly asked me to slow down, called someone about a girl on the floor, and soon three nurses with a wheelchair were coming through the double doors.

The nurses started asking me questions and I realize now they were trying to assess if they should take me to triage or not. I suppose they get some pretty dramatic girls coming in like me who don't end up being that far along? After saying this was my second baby and I was dilated 5 this morning they said something about "just get her to a room". I somehow remembered to ask for a tub room even though I was fairly certain it was too late for that. When I asked that, the nurse clarified that I did not want an epidural. I confidently said no and wanted to add that there wouldn't be time if I did.

I've heard you can kind of know where a laboring woman is at based on how much she cares about modesty. By this point, I was way past the point of caring whether or not I had clothes on and who was in the room. As soon as I got out of the wheelchair they wanted to check me so I frantically took off my boots and pants and shirt I was wearing over a tank top. I'm thinking at this point one of the nurses asked if I wanted a gown, I don't remember what I said to her, but chose to just stay in my tank top and socks. :) One nurse checked me and quickly confirmed I was fully dilated/effaced. I quickly hopped off the bed again to try and get to a more comfortable position for the next contraction. I was entered into the computer system at 5:12 PM.

The next couple contractions were spent leaning against the tub, that I never did get to labor in, but hey, I got my tub room. :) My body wanted to start pushing, but the nurse very adamantly told me to breathe through the contractions and not push, which I'm guessing was because the nurses did not want to deliver my baby. I strongly told Devin to put counter pressure on my lower back at some point because the nurse rubbing it was not doing a thing. She meant well. After a couple contractions I walked over by the bed (I think because the nurse needed to quick monitor the baby for a few seconds). I stood and leaned over the bed through the next contraction as Dr. Stroud walked in (approx 5:20). His presence was instantly calming and reassuring, one of the many reasons his patients love him. Lindsay, the midwife, was technically on call, but they had called Dr. Stroud and he happened to be pulling out of the hospital parking lot after admitting a patient to the ER and just had to turn his car around. Really thankful how God orchestrated that because Lindsay would not have made it on time and getting an on-call doctor was one of my birth nightmares.

After a contraction (they were really on top of each other at this point) I told Dr. Stroud my body was wanting to push. He very calmly said "okay, bear down a little bit during the next contraction and see how that feels". So I did. I had remembered pushing being a relief with Henrik and it wasn't feeling as much of one this time so that was kind of a disappointment. Dr. Stroud asked if it felt better to push, I said yes, and he said okay, keep going. So, I continued to stand next to the bed and squatted down during contractions. Dr. Stroud pulled up a stool behind me and encouraged/coached me. I believe my doula walked in the room during my first push. She quickly was by my side with a warm cloth and lots of reassuring words. In hindsight, she really was a calming presence and I was glad she was there, even though I wish she could have been helping my through the last hour of hard labor and not just the pushing.

I pushed for about 12 minutes total, in this position...

That's Devin's hand that I'm holding. Kristin gets the credit for taking some awesome birth photos. I actually have several shots of Ira being birthed that obviously I would never share publicly, but I'm happy to have them and kind of see how it went down from a different perspective.

Dr. Stroud asked if I wanted him to go ahead and break my water around 5:25. I said yes. I tried for two pushes to get Ira's head out and then at the end of the contraction I'd feel it slide back up a little which was not what I wanted to feel. This is where the mental part comes into play. I did an in-my-head pep talk and reminded myself that there was only way out of this so I would get his head out on the next contraction. No half-hearted pushing allowed. So the next contraction I just kept pushing until his head was out. Dr. Stroud gave great coaching on when to push hard and when to ease up and after that I did a small, easy push and he told me to stop pushing. Ira's body slid out, they passed him up through my legs and suddenly I was holding my baby boy at 5:34 PM.

Enter all the euphoric feelings, numbing sensations, and happiness (seriously I'm not sure there can be a moment in life where you feel more relief and joy):

I sat down and held precious, screaming Ira.

After the cord stopped pulsing, Devin cut it. Eventually I moved to the bed to deliver the placenta and have stitches from a minor second degree tear. I got to watch the placenta come out which was cool because with Henrik I didn't have the chance to see it. I did skin-to-skin with Ira and he started nursing right away. Devin started sharing the news with family and I tried to decide what I wanted for dinner. :)

And that's how Ira came into the world.


L, Ann and boys said...

I made tea before reading this ;) haha I love birth stories and this one is great. :) Castor oil is a beast... I really really thought I would never take it again after taking it to have Christian, but after childcare set ups starts getting messy...it gets really tempting no matter how many bad things you hear about the stuff. I feel you there. It took several hours for my castor oil shake to kick in, I think it works faster if you take more but I only took as much as you did so...who knows. Sounds like you were close either way, but the hour in the bathroom contractions sounds like castor oil crazies to me. ;) So so happy he's here safe and sound and that you got your tub room. ;) Welcome to the world sweet Ira

Janice said...

I enjoyed reading your story.

leah said...

oh this is great! i totally teared up at the end with those pictures **pregnancy hormones** what a miracle!

so thankful for his safe and some-what speedy arrival (depending when you start the labor clock!)

The Gudeman's said...

Thanks for sharing your birth story and kudos for getting through it without medicine! I remember telling Darin "I can't do this!" too when I was in labor with Everly and he just shrugged his shoulders and looked terrified for me!

sandra said...

Neat story. Parts remind me of my births. Having hubby press on lower back for pain relief, talking within yourself that the next push this head IS coming out because it's the only way to end the pain:), and being dialated so far along before even entering hospital. I was 5 cm with my first when I got to hospital and then contractions stopped overnight but thankfully I dialated to 7 while I slept:). Enjoyed reading!!

Linda said...

Enjoyed the blow by blow account :) It's great that you have all of this in writing for future reference! So thankful for a safe delivery and healthy baby!

Daveana said...

What an awesome story! What a great way to have this written down for memory. Glad you were able to have your doctor and that your doula made it in time! Can't wait to meet Ira!

Klint & Sarah said...

enjoyed this so much! Oh my goodness, SO FAST...lol.

THanks for taking the time to share this!! Awesome pics!


Sara Huber said...

Really loved the pics...such a miracle. So happy for Ira's safe arrival!

Ashton said...

Phew! Birth stories are always so intense. And of course they never seem to go exactly as planned. But in the end, all we care about is being done and holding that baby.:) So happy for your family of four!

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing this. Brings tears to my eyes - what an amazing gift God has granted you guys. Loved reading it and seeing his precious first pictures!