Finally here to share Brooks' birth story! It's hard to believe this was 2 months ago already. Time is flying by, and I cannot believe how big my precious baby has grown in such a short time. Giving birth was the most miraculous, yet difficult experience of my life. It was not at all what I had expected!
Thursday morning, November 4, we went to our weekly OB appt. I was 39 weeks along. After our routine appointment, we were informed that there were no current signs of imminent labor. We left and went about our day.
A few hours later, that afternoon, I started feeling uncomfortable. My belly felt tight and I felt nauseous. I didn't think much of it. I was 39 weeks pregnant, after all. Occasional discomfort was to be expected! I joined Ty at a house showing in Grand Rapids at around 5pm, feeling uncomfortable the whole time. When we returned home, we ate dinner, and my contractions grew in frequency. We spent the next few hours wondering if we should go in to the hospital. We timed the contractions and they occurred consistently every 4-5 minutes for a few hours. Finally, at around 9pm, we went in.
They hooked me up to their machines to monitor contractions and checked my cervix; I was dilated to 2 cm. We stayed at the hospital until 2am. After 5 hours, I was only dilated to 3 cm. The contractions were now every 2-3 minutes, but because my cervix did not change drastically, they sent me home. The nurses said that I was definitely having "real" contractions, but that I was probably a while away from giving birth.
We got home in the middle of night. I took a bath to try and ease the discomfort. It definitely helped. Thankfully, I managed to get a few hours of sleep. I continued to have contractions for the next 24 hours. They were not significantly painful, but they did occur every few minutes. That Friday, I worked, as usual. I had a lot of loose ends to tie up before maternity leave (which was scheduled to begin 5 days later on my due date).
That Friday night, we ate dinner and played a game of Scrabble (I like to remind Ty, to this day, that I beat him in Scrabble while in labor!). After Scrabble, during a moment of "extreme nesting," I took apart the entire fridge and scrubbed each piece in the sink. After frantically cleaning the fridge, at around 9pm, I told Ty that the contractions were becoming more severe and I had the suspicion that the baby was coming that night. I did not want to go to the hospital too early, again, so I labored at home for a few more hours until the contractions were nearly "unbearable." Around midnight, I even tried, without success, to get some sleep. Around 2am, the contractions grew significantly more painful and I was having trouble getting through them. We drove to the ER and I was admitted.
Now, I was dilated to 6 cm. Finally! Because I had already been laboring for well over 30 hours, we all assumed we were just a few hours away from meeting our sweet boy.
That was a long night. The contractions were immensely painful and I was dilating so slowly. There were many times that I was certain I would be near 10 cm, only to find that I had hardly made progress. Finally, around 6am, I was at 9 cm. "You are so close, Hannah!" the nursing staff reiterated over and over. Ty pressed on my lower back repeatedly during the contractions to help me to manage the pain.
I was stuck at 9.5 cm for 3 hours.
I decided, since before I even became pregnant, that I wanted to do an unmedicated delivery, if possible. I did not get the epidural. Had I known it was going to be so long, I might have reconsidered. I started to grow desperate the last few hours of contractions, but because I was at 9.5 cm, I kept telling myself that it could be "any moment now." Most women I spoke with who did a natural birth told me that just when you begin to feel desperate and can't do it any longer, you will hit 10. That stuck with me. Unfortunately, that was not the case for me. Just when I grew desperate and felt like I couldn't continue, I remained in that state for hours...3 hours.
I asked my nurse (who was an angel) 100 times, "How much longer? When can I start pushing?" I had it in my mind that pushing would be easier. Seems illogical now; I think I was just desperate to have the contractions over with. Another thing people told me was that pushing would "feel good" and bring some relief. Let me tell you, it did not feel good!
Our nurse was slow to make any promises as to how long the pushing would take, but she did inform us that most women push for 30-60 minutes.
"Okay, one hour tops. I can do it."
I pushed for 4 hours until Brooks was born. I could not believe that the pain could get worse than the hours of contractions at 9.5 cm, but it could. At this point, I had not eaten in a day and had hardly slept in three days (I obviously did not sleep at all the night leading to his birth. The the night prior was the night we initially went to hospital and got home at 2am. I got about 3 hours that night).
With no energy left, and no epidural, I passed out between each "push" the last few hours. I was in and out of consciousness, waking up to severe pain every few minutes. Ty fed me ice chips or sips of apple juice to keep me somewhat "awake."
The baby was stuck under my pelvis and was hardly progressing through the birth canal after hours of pushing with all my might. At around 4:15pm, after around 44 hours of labor, I told the doctor that I couldn't do it anymore. I asked for the epidural, or a C section, or anything, as I had grown weary. I felt like I was dying and I was terrified for my sweet baby. At this time, Ty stepped outside the room to collect himself. He was distraught (though he did an amazing job encouraging and supporting me the entire time). He prayed and begged God for intervention. Ty returned to the room, and prayed out loud over me. Our nurse joined. At that time, my Dad and sister texted my mom (who was present for the birth) to tell her that they had just prayed for me and the baby. Literally, several minutes later, I felt a supernatural surge of energy and pushed with all of my might, screaming. The nurse called out, "The head, the head!" Brooks was born a few minutes later at 4:37pm.
The next day, Ty's mom told him that she, and her siblings, prayed for us around 4:30pm. My boss, a few days later, who had no idea that I was even in labor, told me that he was cleaning his garage that Saturday afternoon and randomly felt prompted to stop and pray for me....you guessed it, around 4:30pm.
I had never felt closer to God than in those dire moments and the moments following. I will never underestimate the power the prayer after that experience. Truly, I cannot describe how exhausted and listless I felt before those prayers, compared the might that my body displayed during the final push.
The nurses placed Brooks in my arms and I cried, "I love you, I love you!" It's difficult to recount the details of those moments, as you can imagine. I do remember Ty, and my mother, sobbing beside me.
At 7 lbs. 6 oz; Brooks was healthy. We all had been so nervous, considering the trauma he had experienced being in the birth canal for so long. We are continually grateful.
Ty joined me the hospital bed and we cried together. It's challenging to describe the following moments, emotions, and interactions. It was all too surreal. I could not have done it without Ty, my mother, and our wonderful nurse, Amy. There are so many more details that I am sparing for the sake of keeping this post from getting too long! I held my sweet son close, cherishing the sound of his precious cry.
We can't believe that this event was 10 weeks ago. Time as a parent has flown by. We are cherishing each day with our sweet son!