Friday, October 25, 2013

Shepherd's Birth Story

Shepherd's Birth, a set on Flickr.

***Photos taken by Kat Marcum Photography

With a 45 hour 33 minute labor, it can only be expected for this blog entry to be extra long as to include all the details leading up to the most incredible moment of my life - the moment when Shepherd James Hurst was born. So I'll just apologize now for the length...

It all began when I started feeling cramping twinges the morning of October 17th, the day after my due date. I felt these in my theology of healing class I have been auditing this semester from Asbury Theological Seminary. I had walked the mile to the seminary, so Josh raced home on his bike to get the car for me. The cramps slowly increased in intensity, but nothing too serious. They were not to the point of timing the intervals between them. I wasn’t even sure if they were real contractions or Braxton Hicks contractions.

We went to Panera Bread for a brunch and we decided to call our parents to let them know how I was doing. Although I thought they would wait a day or so, they all immediately got on the road and my mom caught the next flight out of Midland, TX.

Later that afternoon we went to our 40-week prenatal appointment at WomanKind Midwives as scheduled. Kendra Giffin, our nurse, immediately confirmed that I was experiencing real contractions when she said she would need to wait until after the contraction to use the Doppler and hear the heart beat of the baby. At this point, I am in tears, because I had woken up that morning in a really sad state. I felt as if I was going to be pregnant for at least another week or so, which feels like a lifetime at the end of pregnancy. I actually read John 16 that morning, and ironically Jesus uses the imagery of a woman’s sorrow turning into joy as she labors then births a new life.

At my appointment Melissa Courtney, our midwife, said I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. We asked her to strip my membranes to get things going a little faster. She informed us this may make the contractions increase in frequency, but it might not make the labor process any faster. She was definitely right about my contractions getting increasing in frequency! Immediately afterwards, I started feeling the difference it had made.

This is when “prodromal labor” started - around 3pm.  From what I’ve read and understand, this is supposed to be prelabor with regular or irregular contractions that aren’t so bad. Well, these contractions lasted well throughout the afternoon and into the evening and they were intensifying with time. They were consistently getting closer and closer together. We laughed and cried in all the excitement. Josh told me to do whatever I needed to do to relax so, being a girl, I put on Forest Gump, started blogging, Facebooking, and texting all at the same time. Eventually, Josh took one thing away at a time so that we could focus on the contractions. The Marcum family, Manual family, and Jeff and Anne Corey all came over at separate times to pray over us and the Manuals anointed us with oil. It was really special to have our close community support us through the pregnancy and now during labor.   I don’t think we would have made it without a loving community around us.

After they all left and after the TV, my computer, and phone were all off, I was getting to the point where I couldn’t talk or move through my contractions. This went on for a couple hours. Since Josh was an avid contractions timer, he was convinced at midnight we needed to go to the hospital because my contractions were consistently 3 ½ to 4 minutes apart for an hour. My mom arrived just before Josh basically pushed me into the car. I didn’t quite feel that it was time to go, but he and my mom insisted!

We arrived at the hospital with our friend Kat and Ryan following closely behind. All 5 of us were laughing and I was describing my contractions as feeling like "really out of control gas cramps." The nurse checked me in and had me rate my contractions on a scale of one to ten. She said, “one being mild, 4 being a grimace, and 10 being your boob in a meat grinder.” (<< we laughed about that one for a while.) I rated my contractions a 4. She did a vaginal exam and said I hadn’t progressed from 2cm and 80-90% effaced. She basically told me to go home and not come back until my contractions felt like my boob was in a meat grinder.

Disappointed, I dressed and made the trip all the way back to Wilmore. I really felt like I was never going to meet my son or daughter. It was around 2:30am when we crawled into our bed to try and sleep through the night. However, I didn’t sleep at all. My contractions slowed to 10 minutes a part once I laid down, but they were too intense to handle on my back. So I would start to drift off and then the contraction would start and I would have to flip on to all fours. At 7am, the 18th, the contractions started to get closer together again around 5 minutes apart.

This prodromal labor just kept going on and on. I just labored at home on the birthing ball all day long. I don’t recall much during this time except monotony through painful contractions and complete exhaustion. Even though Josh was doing a great job of getting me to drink water between each contraction (You’d be proud, Kristin Abboud!), I ended up vomiting a couple of times, which caused me to be dehydrated.  The lack of fluids and lack of sleep made my early, prodromal labor contractions feel like active labor contractions in intensity.  I watched some more movies during the day and tried to nap in between my contractions. Finally around 4pm I gave Melissa a call and told her what was going on. She told me to meet her up at the clinic so she could check things out.

As we rolled into WomanKind Midwives clinic, Josh’s parents and sister pulled up as well after their 21 hour drive. We headed inside and Melissa, to my dismay, to said I was still 2 cm, “but a loose 2!” I am pretty sure she just said this to make me feel better – thank you Melissa. She then gave us a few options. She said I was probably dehydrated due to the vomiting and needed to get an IV up at the hospital, but I could go home and try to rehydrate myself. She also said I could take Ambien either at home or at the hospital, but it was vital I got some sleep in order to achieve natural child birth. We opted to go to the hospital. Originally I was anti-IV and all things needle-like, but I decided this was a little H20 in my veins and this was going only going to aid our birthing plan – not inhibit it at all.

We checked in around 6pm. The nurses got me hooked up to the IV and gave me Ambien, and I was asleep by 6:30pm. I slept until 2am pretty heavily. Josh stayed up and only got around 2 hours of sleep, because he was monitoring me. He said I would moan through my contractions every 7 or so minutes, but they didn’t wake me up. This was a blessing to get some sleep. Our families were all sleep deprived from the exhausting over-night drives they had just had, and we just all needed sleep before baby Hurst came in to the world.

At 2am, I woke up and active labor had settled itself right on in there. I was fully up and walking between the contractions and completely paralyzed when one would strike. I would feel it coming on so I would get over to the birthing ball and someone would always slide a pillow underneath my knees. We had THE BEST NURSE EVER during this time. Her name was Rachel, and she was a professional masseuse before she became a l&d nurse. She was just so invested and compassionate when I would have a contraction. She pressed and massaged my back just right to alleviate some pain. We didn’t get to see her after birth because her shift ended, but I just want to give her a huge hug and thank her for all she did for both Josh and me throughout the night.

Josh kept the giving me sips of water between contractions, and by 7am my mom and Kat Marcum, my friend and photographer, showed up. Kendra Adkisson, the other midwife at WomanKind Midwifery, came in to check on me and see how far I'd progressed. She said I was 6cm and that she'd be delivering baby Hurst since she was on call that weekend. She said she would come back later when I had progressed a little further. Through my contraction Josh would put pressure on either side of my hips or just press straight down on my lower back to alleviate pain. I ended up vomiting a few more times, but we kept up the water intake. My mom was right there holding the bag and wiping my face after each time I vomitted. I was incredibly proud of her, because she has THE highest gag reflex of anyone I know. But she never even flinched during this time.

“Transition” hit around 10:30am, and this has to have been the hardest part of the entire labor for me. The contractions were to the point of “feeling like my boob was in a meat grinder.” They would sometimes double in intensity, and each contraction was about 2 minutes in length. Everything in me wanted to surrender and give in.  I remember during two contractions thinking, “my God, I am NEVER going to make it through this.” “I just can’t do this any more.” I said similar things to Josh, and we both knew these were the emotions and indicators that birth (pushing phase) was near according to what we had learned in our Bradley Method class. The Bradley Method teaches that surrender is a vital aspect of the birthing process.  Josh and I thought it was cool that the natural process of birth, which God created, includes an element of surrender.

I remember also yelling during one of my last contractions during “transition,” “where is Kendra?! Why isn’t she here yet?!” Kendra came and checked on me earlier that morning to let me know she would be the midwife delivery baby Hurst, not Melissa since she had just delivered another baby and Kendra was on call. We had already built up a relationship with Kendra and were completely confident in her anyway.

As soon as I yelled this, Kendra literally came through the door seconds later. I remember having a few more contractions on the birthing ball then getting up on the bed. Kendra was going to check the heart beat of the baby with me on my back, but having the contraction on my back UNBEARABLE. I seriously don’t know how women give birth on their backs, but then again I had back labor the entire time.

About 11:45am, the pushing began. My contractions were spread pretty far apart and irregular every 5 or minutes, but I knew baby Hurst was coming. I remember between the first and second pushing looking over at the door and seeing several shadows of pairs of feet. My mom told me both my in laws, sister-in-law, and dad were outside the door lifting me up in prayer. Kendra asked if I wanted her to break my water, and I did. Anything to aid in finishing this marathon. She flipped me over between the first and second time I pushed and broke my water with a crochet-like hook. A bunch of meconium came out with the water, so she called in the NICU nursing team to suction out baby Hurst’s lungs whenever he or she came out.  But I never even knew there was an entire team in there. I was so focused. When my contraction started I couldn’t get enough strength to get back on all fours, so Josh basically picked me up and turned me around.

Another contraction came, so I dug deep and really listened to the worship song that was playing – Healer by Hillsong United. The words, “I believe, you’re more than enough for me. Jesus you’re all I need,” stuck in my head.  I started praying these words between and during the pushing. On all fours I waited for the contractions then pushed down almost in child’s pose. Kendra raised the bed and I tried to position my head down farther with my hips up in the air.

The contraction came and I pushed 3-4 times. I literally felt the crowning of baby Hurst. Kendra, my mom, and Josh were encouraging me, “good job,” “wow,” “one more!!!” But my contraction ended and I didn’t have it in me to push one more. Kendra said normally the head will crown and just go back a little bit, but the baby went all the way back inside out of eye shot. If I had pushed once more, Baby Hurst would have been out.  Kendra told me later that the pushing phase could have easily lasted 30 more minutes because the baby’s head went all the way back in.

Right then, between contractions (that were about to be my last) I propped up on my elbows and lifted my palms up and just prayed, “I surrender, Jesus. I’ll let you take this next one. I can’t do it without you.” The contraction came again.

I pushed.

I pushed 3-4 times. The cord was around his neck, but Kendra handled that like a champ and simply brought it around his head as everyone else held their breath (This is Josh’s memory).

Then I pushed one more time after every one in the room cheered me on. Then I heard baby Hurst’s cry. I heard Josh say, ”It’s a boy!!” Josh was able to catch the baby with Kendra. He passed the baby through my legs and in that moment I couldn’t do anything, but have a huge smile on my face and stare at him. I had no idea they were all trying to hurry, cut the cord, and get him over to the NICU nurses. Finally I released him and let Josh cut the cord. The nurses suctioned his lungs out and got him right back to me after I delivered the placenta.

It was the happiest moment of my life. The inexplicable amount of joy to hold my first born was over powering. Delivering him naturally was the best decision I could have ever made. I was 100% cognitively aware of the happenings throughout the labor and I allowed my body to do it's job in all of it. I always said I would have been happy with either a girl or a boy, but knowing that our son, Shepherd, will shepherd the rest of his younger siblings makes my heart warm.  

Shepherd James Hurst was born at 12:33pm weighing 6 pounds 13 ounces and measuring 18 ½ inches long. His head measured 13 ½ inches and his chest measured 12 ½ inches. 

1 comment:

Joanna said...

What a beautiful birth story. Thanks so much for sharing. It's amazing that God has blessed us to carry and deliver our children. Truly a miracle!