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  • Writer's pictureJessica Bower

{Birth Story} Plans Change. And That's Okay.

On July 3rd and 4th, I began noticing intermittent contractions but was determined to soak up every single day before Eliza’s due date. We spent those last two days cleaning and getting everything ready in our house. I also had an induction massage with Ruth. Highly recommend her! On July 4th, we went out to eat at our favorite Italian restaurant and then took a walk in Fisher Park as the fireworks went off in the background. We went home and tried to rest. At this point in my pregnancy, I didn’t sleep and just paced around the house. (note: I should have been SLEEPING. Sleep is so precious. I miss sleep!!)

On July 5th, our due date, Micah and I woke up early and drove to meet Dr. Ward at ARMC so she could sweep my membranes. I wanted to avoid having any type of induction or cesarean and I knew this was a way to get the labor process started. She discovered I was already dilated to 4 cm. We headed back home and decided to spend the day trying every old wive’s tale in the book. We walked, we ate spicy food (Bandito Botego to be specific!), we went to Target, we ate more spicy food, we went to 1st Friday’s downtown and walked and walked and walked some more. I drank my weight plus some in water. We did the miles circuit and Micah did a “leg” induction massage for me. We stayed up late watching Marley & Me, had a good cry, and waited for the magic to start happening.

We woke up early again on Saturday (July 6th) morning to head back to ARMC to get my membranes swept a second time. We discovered I was still dilated to 4 cm. We came back to Greensboro and hit up our two favorite farmers markets in search of my favorite donuts. We found them along with some extra spicy pickled veggies that we heard could induce labor. I hate spicy food but I ate them as soon as we got home. We took a nap (which unbeknownst to us would be our last “carefree” nap for a while). We woke up and went to target again and got some art supplies. We came home and I played with my water colors and Micah did some sketching. We tried our best to keep our minds relaxed. We played in our hammock and I did laps around the yard while Micah did some landscaping. I had some contractions but I was determined to keep moving. We decided to go to Lowe’s and picked out new plants for our front and back porches. We came home and transferred them to our pots. We went and got more spicy food. We did the miles circuit again. And we took another nice long walk. This time I could feel my contractions start to become consistent. They were still 20+ minutes apart so there was no rush to go anywhere. Most hospitals won’t even admit you unless you’re at least 5-1-1. I had some pretty painful ones but I bounced on my exercise ball and reorganized our office nook to keep my mind off of the pain. I also ate about a gallon of ice chips. I talked to Dr. Ward at about 4 am and she reminded me I was getting closer but no need to jump in the car.

My parents surprised us the next day, Sunday July 7th, and took us to our favorite brunch restaurant, 1618 West. It was the best I’ve ever had! We then went to Common Grounds for coffee and tea. We walked. We ate some more spicy food. My contractions came and went but were still too far apart to really notice a pattern. I started becoming anxious, partly because our favorite doctor was going off call that night, and partly because I was just scared of what labor would look like for me. I called my doula Jessica and she came over to meet with us and form a plan. We called Dr. Ward and decided that I would come into the hospital that night and she would break my water. That would be a way to get things going! We left for the hospital at about 9:45 pm. By the time we were on the interstate my contractions were 5 minutes apart. We were excited because it meant that my body was responding to all the “tips” we had been giving it! (Side note: we had our bags packed and in the car a few weeks prior because I was convinced I would be the mom that went into labor early.) I still think my body was waiting for me to RELAX, which couldn’t happen until I had a plan in place. It was as if getting in the car triggered my body to just do its thing. [I texted my mom and called my Aunt (MiMi) and she began the drive from Washington D.C.—they came to the hospital at about 3 am. I did not want people waiting around in the waiting room for fear I was going to be in labor forever. I also knew I didn’t want anyone to watch me in labor.]

We arrived to the hospital at about 10:30 pm and they immediately took us up to the observation room. I jokingly call this the “hell room” because it’s the triage room and it just plain sucks. It’s small and uncomfortable and I have painful memories there with my kidney stones and kidney infections throughout my pregnancy. Luckily, we met our L&D nurse Pamela there. She quickly moved us to a “push” room. It was spacious and lovely! We gave her a copy of my birth plan typed up. I had made 4 copies and my control freak nature was really starting to reach an all time high. They hooked up my IV and we put on the Hamilton soundtrack. Side note: this is Eliza’s namesake. Micah and I saw Hamilton during Thanksgiving weekend and we both loved the Schluyer sisters, especially the part where Eliza sings out her name “Eliiiiza.” We didn’t know if we were having a boy or a girl but we both agreed that we loved the name Eliza. Another fun fact: Dr. Ward loves Hamilton and so does our other nurse Kristen. It was fun singing along to the soundtrack with them. We also got to meet Sam, our baby nurse. She was so helpful and attentive and when she left the room, I was sad that she would be going off shift at 7 am. I jokingly said “I’m sad you won’t be here for the birth”, to which she replied “unless you have her before 7 am!”—considering it was already midnight at this point, the whole room laughed. Little did we know....

My contractions were consistently 4 minutes apart and lasting about a minute. At about 12:30 am, we had someone bring Micah some Cookout and I began to start feeling some pain. When the counter pressure wasn’t working, I asked for nitrus. So we chatted through the contractions and I would breathe in the nitrus during the bad ones. Quickly, they became way more intense and I could no longer talk. I instead was growling and felt like some type of animal. The pain was real. I no longer had a nice voice. I also kept wanting to move around which is a no-no when you’re using nitrus. My contractions were now 2 minutes apart and I was getting a minute break in between but it was exhausting. I think I told them to turn the (expletive) music off. So the Hamilton sing along was paused.

Dr. Ward planned to break my water at 2:30 am. She came and broke my water and that’s when the real fun began. Everything was revved up a notch. I was still only at 5 cm, but the contractions were way more intense. The nitrous wasn’t cutting it anymore. I had Micah applying counter pressure, I was applying counter pressure (ha!), and nurse Pamela was applying counter pressure. I was screaming. There was one point that I told Micah I thought I was going to die and he said “no, we are going to do this together” and I said “if I die, I’m taking you with me.” I had always been told that I had a high pain tolerance so feeling this intense pain shocked me.

At about 3:00 am, I told Pamela that my birth wishes had changed. I no longer needed the birthing tub. I needed an epidural and I needed it ASAP. They would have to cut the nitrous off. So for a few minutes, I just had to rely on my breathing. That’s when our hero, my doula Christina, walked in. She immediately jumped into action with counter pressure. AND IT WORKED!! I was breathing, I no longer thought I was dying.

I requested a small dose of IV meds to get me through until the anesthesiologist could see me. Although it made me extremely loopy, I still felt the contractions. I will say I stopped screaming, which I’m sure everyone appreciated. Christina helped me breathe and at one point, she was just holding me up. She literally carried me through those contractions. It was time for the epidural and Micah took a break since only one person can be in the room. Christina helped me breathe (literally talking me through it) and steadied my hands during the whole process. The doctor was very patient as I kept asking him how much longer it would be, in a not so nice voice.

We waited for it to take affect and Micah returned looking a lot less terrified. He told me that I looked much better as well. I decided to lay on my side and try to rest until it would be time to push. Christina and Micah took their seats to rest. We were all going to prepare for what could have been a very long labor. The average labor for a first time mom is 18 hours.The joke was on us! A little before 5 am, Dr. Ward came to check me so we would know where we stood. She looked at me and said “well I feel her head, are you ready to push?!”. I was at a 10 (fully dilated!) and fully effaced. Christina and Micah jumped up as the room was prepared for delivery. Our favorite baby nurse who we met at check in, Sam came in and assumed position.

Christina helped me go over some pushing techniques. I was still in complete shock that it was happening this fast. I had only had a couple of hours of “hard labor” and kept thinking if and when I had gone through transition. Pamela and Christina were on either side of me and Micah was at my head. I wanted to make sure he didn’t pass out. I began pushing and I remember them saying “if you keep pushing like that, you’re going to meet your daughter soon!” And I asked “like in a few hours?!” And they answered “no, within minutes!”—-and within about 25 minutes (6:02 am to be exact!), Eliza was in my arms. The pushing part was super easy, and I credit that to an epidural and wonderful coaching from Dr. Ward. That was the part that terrified me the most and it ended up being the easiest.

Eliza was placed on my chest and we waited for the chord to stop pulsing so Micah could cut it. I delivered my placenta while Micah and I began snuggling our precious baby. We were in complete shock when they told us she was 9 pounds and 15 ounces. We also couldn’t believe that in the span of 8 hours, we had a baby! It was fast, furious, and exhausting but totally worth it.


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