As I approached my due date, it still felt surreal that I was even pregnant. Little did I know that the morning of my due date, April 28, was when we would finally get to meet our Judah. My water broke around 6:45 am—I heard a quick grumbling in what I thought was my stomach, only to quickly realize my water had broken. All I had to say was, “Ummm…Joel…” and he was there in an instant. As he packed our toiletries, I called the hospital and let them know I was on my way.
It felt like an eternity until we got to the exit for the hospital. The ride was a mix of excitement and anticipation. In fact, Joel was so focused on driving well that he almost passed up the hospital if I wouldn’t have said something! We got to the birthing unit at Baton Rouge General, and what I mainly remember about it all was how calm everything was. At this point, I was expecting any minute to begin feeling contractions. I kept thinking, “Ok, this is it.” But then another hour would pass. Nothing. And another. Nothing.
After a few hours, Joel and I were getting restless and a little bored actually. After about 4 hours of no progress or a single real contraction, the nurse came in to let me know that they normally give the moms whose water breaks 18 hours before they get the baby out one way or the other. Some hospitals have different policies and time frames, but this was ours. Immediately my heart sank a bit, knowing that already this was not how I had pictured the whole labor process—and that with each passing hour, the possibility of me going natural became less likely. She gave us some options, and we told her we would let her know what we decide. She was a big supporter of me going natural, but secondly wanted me to at least be able to have a vaginal delivery even if my contractions never started. The last thing we wanted was to hope that my body would kick in and then miss the time frame and have to have a c-section because we waited too long.
A month prior was when we had a very scary overnight hospital visit after some unexplained bleeding with talk of induction that we thankfully got through with no harm done. After that we began praying for the doctors and nurses to have wisdom and guide us on my actual day of delivery. So in the midst of what was happening during my labor, we had to remind ourselves of just that. So there we were in the exact room we were in a month earlier and were faced with yet another decision that was not in our “plan” and out of our control. Joel and I decided that after 6 hours, if I didn’t show any progress or get any contractions, then we would start the Pitocin like the nurse suggested to jump-start my labor. So around 2 pm, I found out that again I had no signs of progress and I was still just 2 cm. So that was it, we decided to go ahead and get hooked up and see what happened.
Within minutes of getting the Pitocin, the contractions began. And oh my goodness, these were not normal contractions! I still wanted to at least try and go natural even with the Pitcoin—even though at this point, it was already not “natural.” Call me crazy, but I thought it was worth a shot!
Within minutes, I was out of the bed, trying to get through each one as they came. However, with each contraction they got worse and worse (it also didn’t help that the nurse kept coming in and upping the dosage!). After 2.5 hours, I was in such pain! I would get a contraction and my mind would think “Oh gah, get me an epidural, now!” but once I got through it, I thought, “Ok, I can do this.” This happened long enough for me to tell Joel that if I hadn’t progressed much, then I was getting the epidural. After 8.5 hours, I was just ready to hold our Judah.
The nurse checked me, and we find out that I’m right at 3-4 cm. That news sealed it for me. Along with her saying that I was probably looking at another 10 hours of labor.
After the nurse left, I got through a few more contractions just to see how I was feeling. During one particularly painful contraction, I lost my breathing pattern, and it completely threw me off. After that, I looked at Joel and said, “Get me the epidural—go get the nurse. I want it now.” Looking back, it was such a scene from a movie when the girl is done and just wants the drugs and then they never come fast enough.
The nurse came in and hooked me up to get the necessary fluids I needed before the epidural, and then says, “Ok, I just called him and he should be here soon.” To which I replied, “What do you mean ‘be here’?? He isn’t AT the hospital???” That poor nurse—dealing with crazies like me. After a few more contractions, I looked at Joel and said “Go ask the nurse where he is. I want to know where on the road he is!” Joel said that it was a silly question and he was positive he was close. (Nope—not good enough.) I slammed my hands on the bed, “Why aren’t you listening to me?!? Go find out! NOW!” I will totally admit that I was completely ridiculous at this point and Joel said, “Ok, be right back.” He later told me that all he did was step outside the door, wait a minute, and then come back in and told me, “The nurse said 30 minutes.”
Thankfully, it was less than 30 minutes, and the door opened with the wonderful sound of a wheeling cart that I knew carried a cure to the pain I was experiencing. Despite what everyone told me, getting the epidural did not hurt at all. However, my definition of pain has been forever altered, so that may have been why. I got three more contractions while I was getting the epidural and somehow managed not to move a muscle—breathing really works! Immediately I felt relief and the contractions felt less intense. Surprisingly, I could still move my legs and even wiggle my toes the entire time, which I loved.
About 10 minutes passed, and I asked the nurse if I could take a nap! She laughed and said she would check me first. However, I quickly found out there would be no time for rest. I was 9 cm! I couldn’t believe how fast it happened! Clearly, my problem during my labor was the inability to relax. I went from 3 cm to 9 cm in about 15 minutes. I wasn’t quite ready though because I learned that only half of my cervix was completely effaced, so I had to lie on my right side and get oxygen for about 10 minutes. After that, I was 10 cm and totally effaced. Another nurse even checked me to make sure since it all happened so fast.
Next came the pushing. I don’t know why, but I thought it would be a little more climactic than it was. As she was pulling up the stirrups, the nurse just said, “Ok, ready to start pushing?” (Umm, sure? That’s it? No mad dash to get supplies ready? No one else is coming in? It’s just you, me, and Joel?)
Pushing was one of my favorite parts. Joel did the counting and held one of my legs, while the nurse held my other. Since my epidural wasn’t strong, I felt the pressure in my lower back and knew when it was time to push. After a few minutes, she said that his head was already almost crowning. I asked for the mirror for extra motivation, and it was incredible! I could see his little head covered with hair with every push. After pushing for about 30 minutes, the nurse stopped me and got the doctor. We were about to meet Judah!
The third doctor of the day came. Yes, third. My doctor was out of town, and the on-call doctor was scrubbing in for surgery, so I got my hospital’s on-call doctor. At this point, I couldn’t have cared less. With a few more pushes, I felt that his head was out, and in no time, I heard crying as the doctor held him up.
It was a little past 6 pm, and a feeling of such intense relief and thankfulness swept over me as Judah was placed on me. Joel immediately started talking to him, trying to soothe him, and was even the first one to hold him. I was in shock as he lay on my chest crying. This was Judah. He was finally here, and he was beautiful. His head was so round and he didn’t have a spot or blemish on him. I searched his face over and over again and could not get over the fact that I was finally holding our son—our precious (and quite punctual) Judah. It was a day where plans went out the window; but at the end of it, I couldn’t even tell you why it mattered because our sweet boy was in our arms at last.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Causey Photography.