In case you’re just catching up:
Fletcher James joined our family on January 13, 2019
This post covers the days leading up to going into labor
Here’s a recap of our first few days together
Fletcher and I had our first day flying solo when Andy went back to work
Fletcher’s due date was January 9, 2019 and that day came and went while he stayed cozy inside — this is a great post to start with if you’re interested in reading about what happened the days before I went into labor.
I woke up around 3am on Sunday, January 13th and was was lying in bed attempting to fall back asleep when I felt a couple of contractions. I didn’t think too much of it since I usually had Braxton Hicks contractions around this time of morning — especially during the last couple months of pregnancy. Usually these involved my abdomen tensing up and then relaxing — however, these contractions eventually started increasing in number (still far apart though) and started feeling more like mild period cramps. Around 4am, I decided to start plugging them into my pregnancy app’s contraction timer just for kicks to see if there was any sort of pattern to them.
There wasn’t a true pattern, but they did seem to be continuing to occur, so I did what any normal person would do at 4:30am and decided to repack my hospital bag so that I felt like I was doing something constructive. Once this was repacked all nice and neat, I woke Andy up to tell him about the contractions and to let him know that I thought I was in the early stages of labor. I told him I was going to go shower and get ready for the day just in case we needed to head to the hospital at some point. By 5:15am, I was showered, dressed, and had my hair dried and straightened.
Then I headed downstairs to make some breakfast and hang out on the couch for a bit since the contractions were still happening. The spacing between them was really inconsistent but the fact that the continued all throughout the morning had me feeing hopeful. I lounged around all morning, sipped some iced coffee, colored (I randomly felt like doing this and it was honestly really relaxing!) and watched a couple episodes of the new Marie Kondo show on Netflix.
Around 11am, I headed to the kitchen to make some lunch and that’s when the contractions started getting slightly more intense and were occurring more regularly. I continued to track all of them on my phone and it was both encouraging and unnerving to see them progress. I ate an English muffin and a few carrots but that’s really all that I could stomach at that point. I told Andy that I was going to head upstairs and do my makeup because things were starting to move more quickly at this point.
As I was getting ready upstairs, the pain kept increasing and I found myself sitting on the edge of the tub during the really intense contractions just to have a little breather. I quickly finished my makeup and then called the birthing center to see when I should think about heading in since my contractions were getting close to being 5 minutes apart. The OB nurse that I spoke with said to wait until they were 2-3 minutes apart and lasting close to one minute each but to call back if I had any other questions or concerns. Within an hour or so, I had reached that point but then the contractions switched up a bit and moved to 6-7 minutes apart but at a much higher intensity of pain.
At this point, I could hardly talk whenever a wave would hit so I wrote down some notes and had Andy call the hospital to say that they had increased significantly and I was getting concerned about waiting it out too long at home since I was a first time mom and didn’t know what to expect. Also, TMI but around the time that the contractions started being kicked up a notch, my body was immediately like “hey, let’s clean out our colon every 30 minutes,” ha ha. This is when I started to get concerned because so many of my friends had told me that whenever they felt an intense need to push the baby out, it felt like they had to use the bathroom. I definitely did not want to have a baby at home in the bathroom and figured it was better to get ready to head into the hospital instead of waiting it out any longer. Also, being in a sitting position made the contractions much worse — laying down on my side with my legs kind of curled up seemed to work best during the really challenging waves.
Andy spoke with the same OB nurse that had chatted with me earlier and upon hearing the update, she recommended waiting 30 minutes to see where I was at but ultimately was welcome to come in any time before then if I felt like I needed to. She said that things were definitely progressing in the correct way and that they would be prepping a room for me whenever I decided to arrive.
Upon hanging up the phone, we packed up the car — well, Andy did and I kind of just lay hunched on the bed and then leaned against the kitchen island waiting for them to pass.
The short drive to the hospital was AWFUL. Every bump and turn felt really exaggerated as my body was trying to sift through the waves of contractions. I tried to eat some crackers on the drive there and sip juice because I knew once I was admitted, I would be on clear liquids only until after delivery. Andy dropped me off at the front entrance while he parked the car. The sweet lady at the information desk waited with me and then the three of us headed up to the birthing center.
Since the nurses knew I was coming, they took me to triage where they had me change into a gown and hooked me up to a machine to check Fletcher’s heartbeat + oxygen levels, my pulse, and my contractions.
Of course as soon as I got to triage, the contractions stopped. I was like oh shoot — they are going to send me home. Then I thought of riding in the car for the drive home and immediately thought “that feels like too much right now.”
Contractions started up again (what a relief because I seriously thought they were going to think I was crazy saying I couldn’t even talk at home and here I am laying in triage pain-free). and the nurse checked my cervix. I ended up having to have this checked twice because the first nurse wasn’t able to reach far enough (TMI, I know), but as if one cervix check isn’t bad enough — two in a row was definitely no picnic in the park. I was surprised (and SO relieved) to find that I was already dilated to a 6 and 90-100% effaced.
The nurse said that this qualified me for being admitted right away and so we grabbed our bags and headed down the hall. She started asking me about pain relief and I said I wanted to try a natural birth but was open to other options if I felt I needed them. It was really important to me to be able to experience what labor really felt like before jumping to pain meds.
The contractions in the beginning (early morning) were like period cramps, then they kept getting worse — I could feel them in my back, pelvis, and it also felt like I was being stabbed in the gut at the same time. They were rough but not as bad as I thought they would be. Horribly painful but manageable is probably a good way to describe them. I did a lot of reading on childbirth and ended up using a lot of the breathing techniques that I learned. These helped a ton and even my nurse commented on how well I was doing at staying calm and breathing through each one especially for someone that was at that point in labor
Once we arrived in the birthing suite, baby was monitored because his heart rate kept dipping unless I would alternate from one side of my hips to the other every 20 min or so. I also received an IV port (I think that’s what they are called) just in case I needed an IV so that they wouldn’t have to prick it during more intense contractions. I have teeny tiny veins and whenever I need blood drawn or IVs inserted, it’s usually quite a process. This time was no different and I got stuck three times — twice in my forearm and once in my hand. Unfortunately, the attempt in my hand blew the vein and my hand immediately swelled and started turning black and blue as the night progressed. I’m actually still super bruised even two weeks later as I’m writing this post — so weird how the body reacts to stuff!
We also handed the nurses a copy of our birth plan during this time and went over our preferences; however, we stressed the fact that our ultimate goal was getting Fletcher out safely so that took priority over anything else if there were an emergency situation. I was a little nervous about handing out the birth plan because we tend to be a little more crunchy granola when it comes to modern medicine but it was really well received by the nurses and they said that most of the things we requested were reasonable and a few of them were already hospital procedures.
Awhile after we had been In the birthing suite for awhile, the contractions started intensifying even more. I couldn’t talk or even think through them and felt bad that I had to keep telling the nurse “just a second — let me get through this one” because they would often hit as I’d be mid-sentence or as she was explaining something to me. The only things that helped was hearing the nurse talk me through them and reminding myself that each contraction brought me one step closer to meeting our baby. I also squeezed Andy’s hand really tightly during each one and it really helped to have something to grip during those intense 60ish seconds. The nurse kept telling me to breathe in through my nose and out through my mouth but pregnancy made me so stuffed up for the entire nine months so there was just no way that this was happening. I tried to really focus on slowing my breath and taking each contraction one at a time but with how quickly things were progressing, it was hard to stay in the moment knowing that another one was coming a mere 35-45 seconds after one would pass.
After awhile, these intensified even more. I started shaking uncontrollably, which is something my body tends to do when I’m in shock, however, the nurses said that this is totally normal due to the hormones during labor. My whole body was trembling even during the rest periods and it made me feel really unsettled because my body wouldn’t calm down no matter how hard I tried to stop shaking. Speaking of which, the rest periods shortened dramatically — going to every other minute or so so I never really got time to recover before the next wave hit me. The nurse suggested changing positions so she raised the bed and had me try leaning over it so I could move my hips from side to side and that’s when I lost it — this made the pain even worse and I reached a point where I decided that there was just no way that I could continue on like this.
The nurse calmly said that it’s okay to change my mind and get an epidural. I burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying — I was so scared from my body shaking uncontrollably and the pain being so unbearable. It literally felt like something was trying to burst through my lower abdomen while my pelvic bones felt like they were being snapped in half at the same time. Totally another level of pain I had never experienced before.
They checked my cervix again at 5:30pm and were surprised To find that I was already at an 8. My water also broke around this time and it was green due to the meconium (baby’s first poop since he was 4 days past his due date). It was during this time that I lost the rest of the mucous plug and this one was the bloody version of it (so gross).
They said I was progressing a lot faster than most — especially for a first time mom that was only dilated to 1 cm 48 hours prior. The nurse said we would most likely have a baby in our arms by midnight and hearing this felt so exciting! This was finally it! We had waited so many months for this special moment and it was literally on the horizon!
I finally said yes to the epidural and luckily the anesthesiologist was able to meet with me within 15 minutes. I signed the consent form (my signature was basically one big scribble because I signed it during a contraction) and he got to work. He had me sit up and lean forward as he administered the epidural into my back. I was a little worried about this because I don’t love needles and have heard some horror stories from friends. I was surprised to find that it was literally a piece of cake — maybe because the contractions were so bad, this felt like nothing, but either way, I was SO relieved when I felt the contractions start to die down. Also, having an epidural is THE strangest thing ever. My legs felt like sacks of flour and it took a nurse and Andy to reposition me because my lower half of my body was basically dead weight.
It was SO strange to not be able to feel my legs and butt. This took some getting used to but I was thankful to have the pain gone! I still felt some pressure during contractions and I could feel Fletcher moving down further into my pelvic bones as it felt like something was bearing down on them, but otherwise was totally numb.
Since I was feeling so good by this point, I had Andy run to the car to grab a few things (Gatorade, etc) and told him to grab some dinner for himself. The nurse heard me say this and I was surprised when she said “are you sure you want him to run out? If he does, he better make it quick because this baby is coming fast!” When she had mentioned earlier that we would have a baby by midnight, I was thinking he would be born around 11ish. Little did I know we were less than a few hours away from meeting our son! Andy ended up making it back with plenty of time to spare. However, I don’t think he even finished his dinner because that’s how quickly things progressed once he got back to the room. I was surprised that I wasn’t starving by this point but I think the adrenaline that was running through me was causing me to not feel hungry at all. I did sip some Gatorade during this time because I knew I would need some sort of energy for pushing him out — especially if it ended up being a long delivery
Around 7:30, the nurse checked me again and I was at a ten with baby in the bottom-most position of the pelvic area so they started setting up the room for delivery. My doctor wasn’t on call that day since it was a Sunday evening, so I had another doctor assigned to me. He was SO nice and Andy and I both loved him right away! I was a little nervous about having an OB that I had never met before but felt so at ease from the minute that I met him.
The nurse taught me to do some practice pushes around 7:45pm and then we started the real deal. Side note — it’s hard to push when you can’t feel anything down there ha ha. Also, the OB nurses are seriously angels — they put up with and see so much.
I say this with caution because I know not everyone has the same experience and every body and delivery is so different, but labor was a million times easier than I had been anticipating. Like, I’m not sure if I just really worked this up in my mind, or what but I was honestly so relieved and am looking forward to having more babies.
It’s also funny because all of your cares about privacy literally go out the window during labor. Everything is on display and you’re having conversations with so many people and you honestly don’t even care that everyone can see everything at any given moment. What is also funny is that soon after Fletcher was born, I immediately asked Andy for a tank top from my hospital bag so I could put something on. So interesting how my view on modesty changed so quickly once baby was out!
The nurse guided me through the pushing — she would watch the screen and feel my abdomen for the contractions and then have me do a huge push as she counted down from ten. We did three of these big pushes in each “round” and then I would rest until the next contraction.
The last few rounds of pushes started wearing me out — I could feel my energy dropping and I started feeling really nauseous and lightheaded due to low blood sugar. They assured me that baby was almost here and that we were so close to the end — this was enough to help me power through. Andy gave me a few sips of Gatorade during the rest periods and that helped but also made me feel a little sick at the same time. Also, Andy ended up being a huge part of the delivery process which neither of us was expecting — he held one of my legs while the nurse held the other as the doctor delivered little Fletcher.
Also, one thing that was a little strange was that the NICU team came in during the last twenty minutes of delivery so they would be ready to check him out in case of an emergency. So...this little team of like three people just stood in the back of the room and watched the tail end of my delivery. I remember randomly making eye contact with a few of them during a push and it just felt so strange to have an audience, especially one that was never introduced to me.
The doctor kept commenting on how Fletcher was coming out so quickly and said that being athletic definitely had its advantages when you give birth — this was encouraging to hear because towards the end of my pregnancy, I felt like I was so hard on myself for not being as active as I had anticipated despite walking / running most days.
Less than an hour later, I felt his little body slide out and my abdomen immediately go soft. The doctor lifted him up and he was totally limp and not crying because the cord was wrapped around his neck THREE times! They realized this is why his heart rate kept dipping if I laid on my back. I quickly asked the doctor if he was okay and he reassured me that he would be fine but I still was on edge until I heard his first little cry.
Andy immediately cut the cord and The NICU team checked him out since he had the meconium while still inside of me. He got the all-clear from the NICU which was such a relief after the meconium issue and the cord around his neck!
Once the cord was off his neck, he started crying and I immediately started crying as I kept saying “Aw! He’s okay! He’s okay!!” I was so relieved that he was breathing and healthy! Those first few minutes of waiting to see if he was okay felt like forever!
They cleared out his lungs and mouth and placed him on my chest. I was shaking uncontrollably again by this point due to the rush of hormones and I just kept touching his little arms and face saying “Hi honey! Happy birthday! We love you!!” He was the cutest little baby I had ever seen and he kept looking up at me with his big blue eyes while the doctor dealt with the placenta and stitched me up (I had a small tear). We stayed this way for a long time before feeding him and then getting his stats checked. Andy and I were kind of just in disbelief at this point — it’s just such a special time and so hard to explain! The anticipation, planning, waiting, and then finally meeting your child that you already love so much — it’s just amazing.
Fletcher clocked in at 6 lb 8 oz and 18.5 inches long. He was born at 8:41pm on January 13, 2019. My contractions started just before 4am that morning, they became more regular around lunchtime, we arrived at the hospital around 2:15pm, were sent back to the birthing suite around 3pm, I started pushing after 7:45pm, and he was born less than an hour later, which puts my total labor experience at just over 17 hours from first contraction to final push.
After completing his stats and a few other routine things, they put a diaper and a little hat on him then gave him back to me so I could hold him for a bit longer before we transferred to the recovery suite where we would stay for the next two days. The nurse said my epidural needed to wear off and I needed to use the bathroom before we could make the move so much of this time was spent waiting for the sensation to come back into my legs again.
The nurse in the photo above (Cassie) was the one that guided me through labor and she was amazing! I’ll probably say this a million times, but we were so thankful for all of the great nurses that we had during our hospital stay. Also, as I’m typing this out I can’t stop thinking about how my days involve working on food packaging or designing coffee tumblers while these nurses and doctors are literally helping litle people being BORN all day every day! Crazy!
A few hours later (which literally felt like only 30 min due to being enthralled with our new baby), I was able to walk around and we got set up in our room.
We didn’t get much sleep because we kept watching and holding our new little dude. We held him, snuggled, and just took it all in. Andy also brought me a bunch of snacks from the birthing center kitchen because I had hardly eaten all day.
I only got about an hour and a half of sleep due to feedings, Fletcher getting checked in the night, etc. but I didn’t even care — Andy and I were just over the moon with our new family member! Also, I would like to mention how AWESOME to felt to sleep on my stomach again for the first time in so many months!
In this photo above, Fletcher kept staring at the little name sign that his nurse made for his bassinet and we thought it was the cutest thing ever that he was so enthralled with it so we snapped a pic.
The next morning, my OB popped in to congratulate us and see how I was doing. Fletcher also had a consult with a pediatrician to make sure that he was doing well, too. Later that morning, we met with the lactation consultant to learn how to breastfeed. Let’s just say that breastfeeding is no joke; I’ll chat about this more in-depth in another post but we have learned SO much in this area in the past two weeks.
Our agenda for the next two days was to rest, feed him every 2-3 hours, and recover from delivery. Fletcher passed his hearing test with flying colors, got footprints taken, and had his first bath during these next two days as well. We spent most of the day snuggling him and just soaking everything in.
Once he was 24 hrs old, he got some tests done, which he passed all of them except for his bilirubin levels were elevated as he had a cause of jaundice. The nurse reassured us that this was totally normal and the levels would most likely go down to normal ranges once he started pooping regularly. Andy went with him when he got these tests done since it involved a heel prick and we felt so bad for our little guy!
On Tuesday, we fed, relaxed in the hospital room, met with the lactation consultant again to learn how to use my breast pump, and I took another shower and put on makeup (which literally made me feel like a million bucks after wearing a gown the last three days).
We also got to dress Fletcher in his first little outfit from home! It was crazy to see how BIG these little dino jammies were once we put them on him because they looked so small when we first bought them!
Shortly after packing everything up, we headed out to the nurses’ station to check out and head home as a family of three!
I received a bunch of really great questions regarding his birth so rather than adding them to this already lengthy post, I’m going to type up a birth story Q&A post that will go live sometime this week! Comment below if there are any other questions you’d like me to cover! :)