today marks the 4th week of eliott's life & our journey into parenthood. how quickly has it gone by. it seems only fitting to share his birth story & the day our hearts doubled in size. i'd like to highlight that every birth is unique & personal. some expecting parents have specific birthing plans, others go with the flow. i encourage everyone to be respectful & not critical of anyone's experience. we all have the same end goal, right? healthy baby, healthy mom. i'm proud of my 36-hour labor & delivery experience regardless of what was necessary to get this big kiddo out. for those of you who have yet to give birth, pregnant or not, i encourage you to read on. i found hearing multiple stories very helpful in preparing for my own as my delivery was not what i had thought it would be like. with that being said...
my contractions started around 1:30am on wednesday, january 27th. i remember waking up every hour on the dot throughout the night with some subtle discomfort. i didn't think much of it & continued our morning as usual. clint headed to work, i took a shower, put on a comfy dress & just hung out. the cramping came in randomly & didn't really bother me. however, i decided to log what time the contractions were coming in & how far apart. i quickly researched what types of foods i should be eating just in case i was actually in labor. so i snacked on applesauce, dry pretzels, plain toast & plenty of water...i may have squeezed in an acai bowl sometime during lunch too ;)
it wasn't until 11:00am or so where i really felt the contractions coming in harder. it was to the point where i called clint & asked him to come home from work. we went for a walk around our neighborhood, & things started to get real for me when i had to stop walking & breathe through a contraction. this. was. it. by 6pm, i was exhausted & so uncomfortable. i was kneeling over my birthing ball, on all fours, took a couple hot showers (this was my favorite, totally recommend it)...anything to help with the pain. i begged clint to call the hospital. but he encouraged me to wait until the end of the day in fear that i was not far enough dilated (aka the hospital sending us home). the thought of driving back & forth sold me on being patient for a few more hours. by the time we decided to go in, it was midnight on the 28th, his due date. we grabbed the hospital bag (see my bag checklist & items here) & i wobbled my way to the car.
the three days leading up to my due date. i was huge, wow. sorry about my snapchat quality shots here ;)
sitting in the observation room around 12:30am, i was measuring a relieving 4cm. they offered me a delivery suite, & we took it in a heartbeat (if you can get a room, take it asap. you never know if they will fill up later). i was offered epidural however i asked to wait a little longer where i would be a couple more centimeters dilated as i didn't want to slow down the contractions & overall labor process. so we walked on over to our suite where we would be for the next 12 hours or so. at around 3:30am, the nurse examined me & told us i was a whopping 8cm dilated (UMM, what?) but she wasn't 100% sure & needed the doctor to come evaluate. in my mind, i'm panicking as i didn't want to miss the epidural window so i summoned for it immediately.
within 10 minutes, the anesthesiologist was present (hallelu, i've heard it can take 45-60min for them to arrive). she asked me to sit at the edge of the bed, with clint holding me in front. it wasn't too painful, rather i felt more pressure & discomfort. she did say if i felt some tingling sensations (almost like a light electric shock) in my leg to let her know immediately. sure enough, i felt a light sensation down my right leg & let her know. she had to adjust the needle which i didn't feel. within a couple minutes i was done, & lying on back in a pretty euphoric state (FYI, if you plan to get an epidural, remember its a packaged deal...you will get a catheter placed. also, you will start shivering uncontrollably which is normal. it will fade away after a while). shortly after, a few nurses & a doctor came in & asked me to shift my body to the left. they were noticing eliott's heart rate was declining but they never made me feel uncomfortable, nor concerned. they explained what they needed to do in order to monitor him well. they needed to insert an internal fetal monitor that was attached to eliott's head. you can read more about the instrument here. after shifting positions, his heart rate was back up & normal.
i was examined again, but to (little) surprise, the doctor said i was only 5-6cm dilated, not 8cm. so he broke my water & told me to rest. it was hard for me to sleep, which caused me to feel light headed. they asked me to wear an oxygen mask to keep my levels up. around 7am, i was examined again. i barely progressed an additional centimeter. i was then hooked up to pitocin as my contractions were slowing. i finally was able to get some sleep (a good two hours). around 9:30am, i woke up feeling very energized. i was examined as soon as i woke & was told i'm at 10cm...time to start pushing. i was terrified & excited all at once. i started pushing at 10am. clint supported one leg, & my (new) nurse supported the other. it was just the three of us which made it feel very casual & comfortable for me. pushed for about 2 hours but was progressing little. the nurse had the doctor come in & check eliott's position. he was facing my left hip, which made it difficult to come through the birth canal thus the doctor had to rotate him internally (thank you Jesus for epidural). once that was done, he was out 15 minutes later.
we welcomed our son at 12:09pm. our punctual baby boy was a surprisingly big 8 pounds 9.2 ounces & measured 20.25 inches in length. the moment he came out was surreal. the moment they put him on my chest was surreal. this whole process was surreal. how can one not believe a Creator exists after going through something this extraordinary?!
while clint & i were both in awe of what just happened, i noticed the doctor was down there quite some time stitching things up (again, thank you Jesus for epidural). i soon found out i had a fourth degree tear. i will not describe that here, but feel free to look it up on your own -- eeks! i will share my postpartum journey another time as that needs its own post :(
& there it is. 36 hours of laboring & delivery summarized in a five minute post. i received an epidural (planned), needed an internal fetal monitor (not planned), had my water broken (not planned), was given pitocin (not planned), had to re-position my baby internally (not planned) & came out with a fourth degree tear (definitely not planned). but here he is. our healthy, precious eliott elam bartley. my biggest & proudest accomplishment in life.
a few candid photos from my phone below :)