aiden river / a birth story

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Aiden River

born: Sunday March 29th, 2015. 6:06am
16 1/2 hours of labor
weight: 6 pounds 14 ounces
length: 20 1/2 inches

March 27th, 2015


I began having some cramping in my lower abdomen that lasted about 30 seconds and came about every 8 minutes. I didn't get too excited or anxious about this because after about an hour it stopped completely. I chalked the experience up to false labor or Braxton Hicks since I had had neither before and had no idea what either felt like. They were only mildly painful and they stopped before they could even begin to get closer together or more intense.

March 28th, 2015


Jason and I were having a quiet and relaxed day at home. After all - it was my due date. I know - in general, due dates don't mean much. Only something like 5% of babies are born on their due date. But being that it was my due date, there really was only so many more days the pregnancy could go on for before the baby would be coming. So we stayed home. Not to mention, we were pooped from working on so many projects for the nursery and finishing just a day or two before. And I was pooped from, well, this little thing called being nine months pregnant. All was normal that morning. We just stayed in bed watching Parks and Recreation. (It couldn't be a major milestone in Jason and I's life if we weren't binge-watching some tv-show in the midst of it.) I started having more of the same mild cramping from the night before while we were laying in bed but didn't think it was anything to pack for the hospital over. So we kept laying in bed watching Parks.


1:40 pm. Still watching Parks and Recreation. No shame. I remember getting up to do something when a much stronger cramp hit - now I knew what I was feeling was probably a contraction. However still, after the cramping I had the night before, I didn't think much of it. I figured it was likely another round of false labor, just signifying that the baby would probably be here in the next few days. 

10 minutes later. Another wave of cramping. While I still wasn't too concerned, I began secretly timing these cramps by asking Jason what time it was each time they came hoping he wouldn't suspect a thing. ...He caught on the second time I asked him what time it was.

2:30pm. At this point I had asked Jason what time it was almost exactly every ten minutes since 1:40. He had pulled out the stopwatch on his phone in the midst of all this to time them, which my soon-to-be-mama self thought was wildly cute. I still didn't know if labor was actually happening since this also happened the night before. But I did know that it would probably be in my best interest to finish packing for the hospital. So I finished packing, took a shower, got dressed and presentable for the outside world, and headed upstairs to take one last bumpdate photo. 

5:00pm. At this point, it was getting close to 5:00pm and the cramping had not stopped. By the time Jason and I got upstairs to take the last bumpdate photo, the cramping had gone from coming every 10 minutes to every 5 minutes. I mean, I know that contractions eventually start coming closer together. I guess I just thought there would be some sort of middle ground, like they would start coming every 7 minutes as a warning before going straight to "go time".  

"I think we're going to need to just gather up the last of the things and then go to the hospital." 

Some time after 5:00pm. We had everything together. Bags and car seat in the truck. Bump ready. Soon-to-be parents nervous. We took a couple last photos as just the two of us before heading out the door...


6:00pm. We made it to the hospital. We walked straight to the nurses station outside the maternity ward. A male nurse emerged from a room and asked,

"How may I help you?"
"Um... I think I'm in labor...?"

Yes, this is what I said. I said it as a question. With about as much confidence as a bug. I mean, what do you even say? So that's what I said. That's what I asked, rather.

"I think I'm in labor?"

He lead Jason and I to one of the delivery rooms and began asking some basic questions about how far along I was - "Today is my due date", I said. (With more confidence than a bug). He asked how frequent my contractions had been. Another nurse then came in and started hooking me up to all kinds of monitors and started asking me more questions. Either due to fear and anxiety or adrenaline, I could barely remember how frequent my contractions had been, what time it was when they started or what my name was. (Mmm...not so much on the name thing. But, you know.) 

7:00pm. Nurses' shifts at the hospital ended at 7:00pm. Since I had gotten all hooked up shortly before the end of a shift, the nurse said she would just have the next shift of nurses come check to see how far along I was. That 20 minutes of my life felt so long. All I wanted to know was if I had progressed since my last doctor's appointment and if this was actually the start of labor. Because if this wasn't labor, I didn't really want to know what was. The contractions weren't too painful at this point, but if what I was feeling had just been "painless Braxton Hicks", I'd be equally disappointed in how much faith I had put in my high pain tolerance and afraid of the real thing that lay ahead of me.

The next set of nurses came in and measured me. At my 39 week appointment, I had been somewhere between a 2 and a 3. So my eyes kind of bulged out of my head when the nurse told me I was at a 6 already. Like hi, what? "When did this happen?" and, "Can I get an epidural before it's too late?" "How long does it take to get an epidural?" "When do they normally give an epidural?"

That poor nurse. I had so many questions about drugs. 

I was hooked up to two monitors. One was a fetal monitor to measure the baby's heartbeat, and the other was to measure the intensity of my contractions. Every time that contraction monitor skyrocketed from under 20 to over 100, a nurse would say how she couldn't believe how well I was handling the contractions while completely unmedicated. Not a peep had been heard from my room. When each contraction hit I simply said, "Ow. ow. ow." at a normal conversation volume.

Some time later... Here's one thing that was really weird to me about labor. Before I had Aiden, I would hear labor stories and balk at how long it can sound like it goes on for. Even with Aiden I was in labor for 16 1/2 hours. And when you think about being in pain for that long, it seems kind of grueling, doesn't it? Yet, I'm here to tell you that it really wasn't. (But I know everyone and everyone's experience is different.) On the wall facing the hospital bed was a clock. It was reminiscent of elementary school and watching the hour, minute, and second hand slowly tick closer to the end of the day. Sometimes those last few minutes before school let out felt longer than the entire day if you stared at the clock hard enough. But when I was in the delivery room the hours on that clock seemed to go by faster than I could ever possibly keep track of them. 

My doctor arrived at the hospital and checked to see how far along I was. She told me I was between a 5 and a 6. She said that I would be staying overnight no matter what - either to have the baby or so they could monitor me since they had already given me an IV and antibiotics. 

Between 8 and 9:00pm. The next time the nurse was in my room I asked again when the epidural could be given. She said once the antibiotic drip had completed they would give the anesthesiologist a call to come to the hospital. Jason looked at the monitor on the IV - 40 minutes til empty. By this time I was no longer measuring time in standard 60-second minutes, but in number of contractions. They were still coming five minutes apart. So, "40 minutes" meant (loosely translated from the Greek), "8 more contractions until they call the anesthesiologist and I can relax". I was starting to grow impatient - I was still able to handle the pain, but I was beginning to worry that by the time they would be able to give me the epidural that it would be too late - and I'd have to do the whole thing au naturale. I've read too many horror stories on baby forums. 

10:00pm. The antibiotic drip finished. (A half hour ago.) Here's where I really started getting antsy. After what seemed like an eternity and a half, the nurse returned, checked the IV, and said she would call Rich (the anesthesiologist) now. Since Rich was on-call for the evening, they told me to expect it to take 20 minutes or so for him to get to the hospital. I didn't really like the thought of having to wait another 4 contractions for him to get there, but it finally felt like the end was in sight and that I would be able to relax a little. The contractions really ramped up in intensity now. I started whispering the lyrics to "Jesus Loves Me" and "Jesus Loves the Little Children" as a way to take my mind off the pain.

10:25pm. With just Jason in the room: "Where the frick is Rich?! Tell him I need the drugs!"

(The last few contractions before I was given the epidural were the only ones that began to feel unbearable.)

10 minutes later. My doctor came in the room and measured me. I had progressed to a 7. She said I would be having this baby before I went home! She then left the room momentarily. A few minutes later and outside the partially open door, I saw him - a man clothed head to toe in light blue surgical-type clothing with a metal cart filled with all kinds of pokey gadgets. "I think that's Rich!", I said with the glee of a child waiting on Santa Claus. But due to my exhaustion, my glee probably sounded more like the slurred, winded speech of a person who had run 26.1 miles of a marathon in Phoenix.

The man in blue (who turned out to be Rich) came in the room and started asking me some routine questions. All these questions were getting really, really interesting trying to answer while in the middle of a contraction. Each time a contraction came to its height, Rich himself exclaimed to the nurses at how well I was handling the pain despite being at a 7 and having been in labor for 9 1/2 hours already. 

Rich started getting everything ready. I sat at the edge of the bed as instructed while he measured my back to find where the needle would go in. I hadn't been scared about a needle plunging into my back, and obviously I couldn't even see the whole process happening, but I still managed to pass out momentarily once the epidural was in place.  As Jason explained to Rich and the nurse that it was normal for me to pass out after getting poked with a needle, I projectile-puked the remains of my breakfast all over the hospital room floor. And then Jason almost puked. I'm just thankful neither of our families were in the room or that could have been embarrassing.

Rich said he had never seen such a thing happen before so understandably he was a little freaked out. When I was feeling better after a few minutes, Rich seemed to be able to calm down a little.  He explained a few more things, and once my legs were numb and the epidural was working, he left.

11:00pm. Now that I was much more comfortable, Jason and I were able to relax a little. I was ravenously hungry, but all I was able to eat was a couple bites of Jell-o (that I would also later throw up.) We wanted to try and squeeze in some last "just you and me" time, so we turned on the laptop and started watching Hart of Dixie. It seemed only appropriate since Zoe was approaching the end of her pregnancy on the show. But no more than ten minutes in we realized we were exhausted and that we should both try to get some sleep instead.

All throughout the night. I was able to sleep, but I woke up several times because let's face it: hospital beds aren't all that comfortable, especially when you're hooked up to all kinds of things. Every so often, the blood pressure monitor strapped to my arm would give me a good squeeze and woke me up. Every hour or so, the IV would beep when the drip had been emptied. My doctor and the nurses would come in and check on me and the monitors periodically, sometimes they needed me awake, other times they didn't. The most sobering wake-up of all was hearing the distant cry of the baby just born in the other delivery room down the hall. Instinct is a funny thing, because I hadn't even had my baby yet and yet each time that baby cried I woke up with a jolt. None the less, both Jason and I were able to get a little bit of sleep that night. (And I'm so glad we did.)

March 29th, 2015


In the early hours of the morning. I was starting to wake up more because it felt like the epidural wasn't strong enough for the contractions that I was feeling. I asked them to up the dosage because it was starting to feel just as unbearable as it did just before I had gotten the epidural. Rich had to come to the hospital again for them to do that, so it took a little while, but within about a half hour I was feeling better again.

A little later. During one of my several wake-ups that night, I noticed looking out the window it was raining. And it was so peaceful. It calmed me in a way I couldn't even explain to you in words. 

Around 4:00am. My doctor came in, measured me and told me I was at a 9. My options were that I could start pushing or I could rest a while longer while my body labored down. I was still scared about the whole thing (and tired, too) so I chose to wait a while and continue getting more rest.

5am. My doctor returned. I was at a 10. "Are we ready to have a baby?" I was still terrified, but it's not like I could delay this forever. I nodded. She walked me through how to push. She told me to imagine breathing in a column of air and pushing it downward. This imagery made so much sense to me and made pushing a breeze! She told me part ways through that he had blonde hair and that gave me all the more will to see him. About 12 contractions later with about 3-4 pushes per contraction...our baby was almost here! 

6:00am. Jason later told me that just before 6am he thought to himself how after the next contraction our baby would be here. 

6:06am. At the last contraction the cord was wrapped around his neck. She quickly cut the cord, and with one more little push there he was! She placed him on my chest and I looked at him, then at Jason who was already crying, and I burst into tears. The next while was a complete blur. I remember being speechless and not knowing what to say. My first words to Aiden were, "Hi buddy." I nursed him for a while and then they took him to get cleaned up and weighed. He cried with the force of the sun but nothing could wipe the smile from my face. True love washed over Jason and I that day. We met someone new who will be in our lives and hearts forever.

8:00am. The next thing I knew it was light and bright outside. The rain from the early morning had turned into big fluffy white snow flakes. 

We stayed at the hospital until early afternoon the next day. We were so anxious to bring our little boy home (and sleep in a more comfortable bed)! We couldn't have asked for things to go better with our birth experience and we were blessed with a great doctor throughout my entire pregnancy and a really helpful and caring nursing staff for the delivery ad recovery period. (And we can't forget Rich.) We're thankful to our family and friends who prayed for us and most of all thankful to God for blessing us with a healthy baby boy and a healthy delivery.

- our first night home -

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