Our story begins on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 which just so happened to be my 21st birthday. Nick and I went to his aunt and uncle's lake house in Olympia for the weekend to celebrate my birthday, our cousin Ryan's birthday and also the 4th of July. We already had plans to return home if anything started heating up but I had experienced zero contractions by the time we left on Friday evening.
Saturday was a really mellow day and we all spent the morning and afternoon watching TV, playing cards and relaxing in the spotty sunshine. I started feeling some sporadic cramping in the afternoon and figured that I must be starting to feel some really mild Braxton-Hicks contractions. I felt really relieved knowing that my body was starting to gear up for labor, but I figured we'd still have several days - at least - before anything serious started happening. That evening, the contractions began coming at 2 or more per hour and were feeling a little rhythmic, but I didn't feel like anything dire was in the future. Nick did some mild acupressure on my hands and ankles at about 9:00 PM, which I'm guessing caused the contractions to become even more constant. By the time we got in bed at about 10:30, they were coming at about 10 minutes apart. Of course. Right when it was time to go to sleep, there was no way we were going to get any! After about an hour of timing the contractions, Nick made the call - we needed to head home. He alerted the relatives, we packed our things and left at midnight.
We arrived home at about 12:45 AM and soon after, the contractions were coming at about 5 minutes apart. I started concentrating on breathing and let Nick get about 45 minutes of sleep. I figured at least one of us might as well be partially functional! We called the hospital at 3:30 AM to ask if it would be a good time to come in - I was at about 3 minutes in between contractions and some of them were even 2 minutes long. Needless to say, I definitely needed to focus to get through them. The nurse that Nick spoke to said we could come in at any time but we didn't need to hurry there by any means. We packed, showered and left at 5:30 AM. Nick grabbed some Jack in the Box on the way and I snagged a couple of fries but I really wasn't feeling hungry. Looking back, I really should have eaten something anyway. Take note, future moms! Eat while you still can!
We got checked in to triage and I was deemed "in labor" at 4-5 cm. Woohoo! We got moved to our room and were settled in by 7:00 AM. At that time, my contractions had slowed down a little, which didn't surprise me but still made me a little discouraged. Thankfully, my nerves calmed enough to get labor going again and we were back on track to have a baby within the day! The only problem was that my blood pressure was ridiculously high (150-160 over 90) so I was put on bed rest and couldn't walk around during labor. That was extremely frustrating because that was one of my most stressed points in my birth plan. I wanted to be free of monitors and IVs and I wanted to be able to get in the jacuzzi and walk around to further my labor. Nope! Thankfully, I was able to breathe and groan my way through each contraction while still feeling in control of my nerves. Nick was a GREAT coach and squeezed my hand acupressure point during each contraction and encouraged my pained sounds to be low and controlled. I was even taking mini-naps in between the contractions! Everything was going extremely well at that point.
By 9:30 AM I was at 7-8 cm and was progressing really well. I was blown away at how fast that happened! My doctor guessed I would probably deliver at around noon if I kept progressing in this manner. So I kept on keeping on, feeling more encouraged than ever. At 11:15 she checked me again and I was at 9 1/2! Baby was just around the corner, or so it seemed! My water still hadn't broken on its own so she made that happen, which felt really weird. I'm kind of glad I didn't have to go through that outside the hospital because of how messy that would have been. My doctor told me that soon I would feel the urge to push and when that happened to alert the staff. She figured that would probably be in a half hour or so.
2 1/2 painful hours later I was still at 9 1/2 cm and was experiencing more intense contractions than ever. I was trying to breathe my way through each wave, but it was getting more and more difficult because at that point, I was getting really hungry and extremely tired. In fact, I was actually nodding off in between contractions - unintentionally! I would be sitting at the edge of the bed and my head would drop on to my chest suddenly and I'd wake myself up again. Not so fun. At this point, one of my nurses suggested that I might want to add a dab of Pitocin into my IV to get my contractions to progress and get me to the pushing stage quicker. This was a really tough moment for me because I wanted to go completely natural throughout birth - no drugs of any kind. Though after thinking it through for a few minutes I decided it would be the wisest choice. If I didn't take the Pitocin, there was a good chance my body would get too tired and would be physically unable to progress. And the last thing we all wanted was an emergency C-Section! So after Nick asked me about four times if this was what I really wanted (points for the hubby - he knew how non-drugged I wanted to be and wanted to make sure I wasn't going to regret my decision) I decided to go with the Pitocin.
After that, the contractions got even more intense and I was really ready to push this baby out. At 3:30 my doctor checked me again and said I had a very thin lining of cervix left but it was next to nothing. At that moment I made up my mind - thin lining or not, I was ready to push. All of a sudden, our birthing room was transformed from a dark, calm place of focus into a bright, sterile surgical room. Three more nurses who I hadn't even seen before came into the room and everyone put on scrubs. The fluorescent lights were all turned on and the surgical cart was wheeled in. If my blood pressure was high before, I can't even imagine what it was at now!
In all honesty, pushing was the scariest thing I have ever experienced. I won't go into gory detail as to what it felt like, but I will say that it definitely hurt and it took all the focus in the world to not completely lose my grip. After about 20 minutes of pushing and Owen was getting very close to making his entrance, my doctor looked at one of my nurses and was like, "Get the NICU nurse. Now." Apparently at this point I completely freaked out and was saying things like, "What? Why? What's wrong???" but at that moment Nick got in my face and told me that everything was just fine and it was only a precaution - even though he was totally freaked out about the whole situation. Because of Nick's calming response, I don't even remember being concerned (good job honey)! Turns out, there was a little bit of meconium (baby's first poo) visible to the doctor, which meant Owen was under stress. Also, his heart rate suddenly dropped to 80 (140 is considered average) so there was definitely reason to be worried! My doctor looked at me and said very directly, "Okay, we need to get Baby out with this next contraction. Ready? Go!" Thankfully, that's all it took. All of a sudden, we had a baby!! My doctor turned him around and from the angle that Nick and I were both at, we saw at the same time that our baby was a little boy.
Unfortunately, because of the doctor's worries, Owen had to have his cord cut and be rushed over to the nurses before I even had the chance to get a good look at him. At this point, I was completely hysterical. I don't even know what sounds were coming out of my mouth, but I know that it was the hardest I have ever cried in my life. Thankfully, within a couple of minutes Owen was dubbed completely fine and was brought over to my chest in a warm blanket. Nick and I were beside ourselves with joy, excitement and pride as Owen latched on and started feeding immediately. Within five minutes, all was calm and we had a warm, happy baby snuggled up on my tummy.
So there you have it. Little Owen Jeremiah Walker was born at 4:04 PM on the 4th of July. Also, it just so happens that I was at 40 weeks, 4 days gestation the day he was born! Looks like this guy has a lucky number! He is an incredible blessing to both Nick and I and we are absolutely loving discovering how to be parents. It was a wonderful journey getting here and now that our baby has arrived, our lives have changed completely... in the most amazing way possible!
For any women considering going all-natural in the birthing process, I absolutely recommend it. Like I said, it's scary and difficult (and not for everyone), but it's altogether rewarding in the end. It's really awesome for me to know that I didn't have any hormone-altering drugs (besides the little bit of Pitocin) or pain-reducers to get through the contractions easier. For me personally, I wanted to birth my baby without any potential of affecting his temperament when he was born and I'm really glad to say that I was able to do that! Was it difficult? Of course. Did it hurt? Three tears and two sets of stitches later, yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. Because guess what? It's only one day. If that. And then it's over! Plus, it's pretty cool to know that my body could handle it. And not only "could" - but was made to.