|Rugged Joy Photography|
32 hours and 20 minutes. Here's a walk-through of the beautiful (and scary) journey of Judah Beau Hurst's arrival into this world.
I felt a few real contractions the week of baby Hurst 2.0's grand debut, but Thursday morning, June 4th, the contractions woke me up at 4am. I started timing them just to see if they were regular and how far apart they were without getting out of bed. They were painful, but not painful enough to get in a more comfortable position. The contractions were about a minute long every 8-10 minutes. I timed them for about an hour and a half before I decided to let Josh know that this was real labor and not just the sporadic Braxton Hicks or real contractions I'd been experiencing.
In my mind, before I woke Josh up, I imagined telling Josh that I was in labor. Then, I imagined Josh being a little excited, letting me labor in bed a little longer, and maybe even making me some breakfast and a hot cup of red raspberry leaf tea. I should have known better. The whole scenario escalated quickly as he jolted up and asked how far apart the contractions were. Then he immediately contacted Lauren and Blake (the couple who were to watch Shepherd while the whole havin'-a-baby-thing was going down) to come over, threw some clothes on, and finished packing the bags for the hospital.
Before 6am, all the bags were in the car, the installed carseat was double checked by Josh, the sitters had arrived, and we were walking around the block. Although I just wanted to rest with or without sleep in bed, I knew that walking speeds up labor by 50% and after having a 45 hour labor the first time around, I was willing to do anything to speed this one along. We walked for an hour and a half. Josh's legs were actually tiring before mine. I was fine until we decided to walk up an enormous Kentucky hill. After an intense contraction half-way up the hill, I bowed out.
I "slept" for a little over an hour still waking up every 8 - 10 minutes. Just before 9am, Josh woke me up and asked if I wanted to walk again. I must have been in a state of delirium walking around my neighborhood composed of 3 blocks of people reminding me of Cheers, where everybody knows my naaaame (bum bum bum). The first go 'round of walking was fine, because it was before the sun came up and before the millions of mommies, their children, and seminarians were either outside or peering through their blinds waiting for pregnant Elise to come strolling by. (Later I was told by at least a dozen people, "I saw you laboring down the street!") I finally went in after an hour and a half, but not before my older neighbor tried to sneak a photo of me during a contraction on the sidewalk in front of her house. I limped away during that contraction telling her to "put the phone down!"
Around 10:45am we stopped by my friend's house. She happens to be a midwife, nurse, and doula - so basically she is a package of awesome with naturally curly hair, a perfect smile, and a personality that could soothe anyone or anything, giving Snow White a run for her money. I just wanted to borrow an empty capsule so I could fill it up with clary sage essential oil to speed along labor. She ended up giving me a couple of empty capsules, loose leaf red raspberry leaf tea, advice to use my pump for nipple stimulation to get things movin', and then she ended up checking me. That is right. Only a true friend and one that is a midwife would casually offer to check to see your dilation and effacement on her own bed. What a friend! Sadly, I was still only 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced - exactly what I was at my appointment 4 days earlier.
As we were slightly discouraged from all the "work" I had done in this labor process, we decided to go get some lunch at Chili's. After ordering the crispy honey-chipotle chicken tenders, the server led me the "back way" through the kitchen to the bathroom. I was thankful for the privilege, but it was kind of weird seeing all the other servers look at me with closed lipped smiles as if to say "congratulations on making it to the whale-sized-stage of pregnancy. Now, get out of my kitchen."
Afterwards, we went back home to take on the pumping challenge my midwife friend advised. 15 minutes of pumping and 20 minutes off for two hours. This definitely sped labor contractions up to 5 minutes apart. This gave me a little bit of hope, so Josh and I decided to go back in town for more walking at Target. This proved to be interesting, as I would position myself during a contraction to be looking at an item on a shelf for at least a minute without moving. Instead of perusing in and out of the baby items or girls clothing, we stuck to the perimeter of the store and the frozen food sections to give us a cool down. After an hour, we stopped by Fro Jo's for some ice cream, picked up my father-in-law at the airport, and met up with our friends watching Shep at Chick-Fil-A. My contractions slowed to every 8 - 10 minutes again.
After dinner, I was exhausted and thought I'd never go in to "active labor." As I had been told multiple times before, I could experience these awful contractions for days with a second child before I actually go in to "labor." I was confused to even call all of this "labor" at this point. Feeling semi-defeated, delusional, and fatigued, I crawled in to bed at 7:30pm to go to "sleep" for the night.
That night also happened to be Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Josh, an avid Lebron James fan, was really excited to watch the game. He thought he had it made; his semi-laboring wife and active son were in bed for the night. Now, Josh could have some quality father-son time watching the Cleveland vs Golden State game. After two hours of "sleeping" with contractions 8 minutes apart, I needed Josh. So I gave the simple, this means business text, "I need you." Josh spent the next 30 minutes laying beside me and squeezing my hips together during contractions. Josh loves to time contractions and soon figured out that my contractions were 8 minutes apart. So Josh ended up setting an 8-minute timer after every contraction to remind himself to go upstairs and help me through my contraction by pushing my hips together or just giving me verbal support.
My mom showed up somewhere between 11:30pm and midnight, but I wasn't coherent enough to remember her arrival.
***This is where you can skip to if you don't have time for the fluff timeline of the day-before actually having baby 2.0.
At 7:30am, I was tired of having these contractions for 12 hours in bed. I called my midwife asking her if she wanted to check me since I had been in labor for 27 and a half hours. They close at 12pm on Fridays, so she told me to come by in an hour. I live 45 minutes away from her clinic, so Josh and I leaped out of bed to get ready (if that is possible for a 40 week pregnant woman). I threw on the clothes I had on the day before, brushed my teeth, wore the makeup from the days prior, and strapped on my Chacos before I headed out of the door. I pumped every 20 minutes for 10 minutes all the way to the clinic to hopefully get things going again. Josh and I decided not to get our hopes up when getting checked. I was probably still 2cm, as my contractions were never closer than 5 minutes apart for over an hour. However, the pumping on the way did make my contractions speed up to 4 minutes apart. The whole process of my labor really was confusing with no clear movement form mild to intense contractions.
My mom met us at the clinic, and we all headed in together. All the staff were excited to see me in labor and my midwife excitedly clapped her hands together, winked, and said, "We've never had an office baby! We have an emergency birthing kit!" I took the hint that she was totally cool with me having the baby in the lobby, check-up room, or even in the hallway.
Surprisingly, I was 5cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was so relieved. I honestly didn't believe her at first, because I expected her to give me disappointing news. Then Josh just laughed and he came over to squeeze my hand. She recommended that I walk around the clinic for an hour to see how things progressed. As my contractions sped up again to 4-5 minutes apart in the hallway, she decreased her recommendation to walking 30 minutes. I circled the building twice in fifteen minutes before I threw in the towel and said I needed to make my way to the hospital! I didn't even apologize to the people who had to walk around me when I stopped in the middle of the stairs. There is a point in labor when you take a "no shame" mentality. Not only did I not apologize, I didn't even make eye contact or scoot to the side. Here is my public apology to all those who squeezed by me to get to the office next to the midwifery clinic.
After getting checked again, I was still 5cm, but I was 100% effaced. At 9:30am we went to the hospital (across the street) and went immediately to the "tub room" that my midwife had reserved for me. Somehow it took forever and a day to get through the 100s of registration papers. I filled them out while bouncing on an exercise ball and pausing for the contractions. My photographer (and good friend) showed up while I was filling out everything. The nurse took my vitals and spent a long time trying to get the baby's vitals. Meanwhile Josh kept encouraging me and rubbed clary sage essential oil on my feet and little toe. The nurse suggested I drink a sugary drink to get the baby's heart rate up. Josh got me some of the mini-cartoned orange juice from the nurses station. I took one gulp and immediately threw it up in one of those handy vomit bags the hospital keeps near by.
At 10:30am I got in the tub. I tried every position, sitting at an incline & leaning forward, but the contractions felt unbearable. Although I loved the warm water, I knew I needed to find a more relieving position, especially because Josh couldn't help me in anyway. The nurse checked me again just before I got out around 11:15am. I was 8cm dilated and 100% effaced. I couldn't believe how fast I was progressing. I had spent 27 hours going from 2cm to 5cm and within an hour I had progressed 3cm!!! I felt like everything was happing so quickly. When getting out, I noticed I'd finally lost my mucus plug. I hated the transition to the cold air, but I knew the calming warm tub wasn't where I needed to have this baby as the baby's heart rate was low. The contractions were still 6-8 minutes apart, but the intensity was irrefutable. I was close to having this baby regardless of the length between contractions. Trying to find any position to help, I finally found a little relief sitting backwards on the toilet.
At this point, I felt a huge impulse to push.....because I needed to go #2 in the worst way. (I didn't say I was just going to just write about the cushy fun details!) But because I said the "p" word, my nurse started to freak out as my midwife wasn't there yet. She encouraged me to get off the toilet. She did not want to have a water baby. Being a rebel at heart, I immediately said, "Why?" And of course I didn't....right away. I finally moved over to the bed after 15 minutes. At this point I knew I was going through transition as I thought to myself, "I don't need to experience this natural birth thing again. I've been there. It was great, but I should just get the freakin' epidural." Then as I thought it, I told Josh, "WHAT AM I DOING?! I CAN'T DO THIS!" As soon as I voiced my panic, my midwife came in. She immediately set out some candles and spritzed the room with a little skip in her step. In my mind I asked, "She is this happy every day?!" I mean, she was about to stare at my lady parts as I somehow pushed a baby out of it. Her positive attitude helped me past my incredulous thoughts, and it helped me work through a few more contractions. Thankfully, she encouraged me to go right back to the toilet where I told her I felt most comfortable.
After a few more contractions, I moved back to the bed. I got on all fours ready to push him or her out. It felt like an hour that I was on fours, but looking at the time line, I must have only been on the bed for 10 minutes. My arms felt like they were going to give out so I rolled to my back between contractions that were approximately 6 minutes apart. The baby must have turned, because my back labor had eased and lying on my back actually gave me some rest. At noon, I felt the urge to push for real this time. I rolled over on my side with my legs hiked up and my mom supporting one of my legs.
The sensation to push was significantly different than my first go 'round. It wasn't immediate relief. It was painful. My midwife broke my water. I was slightly in shock at the difference of the pushing sensation from my first time and forgot how to relax and breathe. I started breathing quickly, not taking enough in to give myself enough force to push hard. I fatigued during my first actual push and had to stop early. I asked for the oxygen. I don't think I needed it, but having it gave me a peace of mind for some reason. I breathed in deeply trying to slow myself down and relax to gear up for the next set of contractions. I rolled to my back as Josh kept asking me if I wanted to be on all fours again. I just kept telling him how tired I was. After a couple more "pushes," my midwife started giving me quick instructions to guide the baby out. I looked around as nurses, my midwife, my husband, and my mom stood shoulder to shoulder around me. Time seemed to slow down. I could see my good friend and photographer trying to peek around the wall of my birth team to capture the moment. I could see the panic in everyone's eyes, but I had no idea what was actually going on. There wasn't time for an explanation at the time as I was following all my midwife's directions. Every word spoken, action taken, or breath inhaled or exhaled was very purposeful. The nurse, for the second time, pressed the call button and urgently requested the NICU team. Some of the quick instructions I remember from my midwife were "good Elise. Okay push...okay don't push, don't push don't push...okay give me a half of a push...Okay Elise, puuuush! You can do it!" It was a strange feeling. It was similar to what you see on tv. My scream turned in to a low groan as I worked through the contraction. Later I was told the halting of the pushing was for my midwife to unwrap the umbilical cord twice from around baby Hurst's neck. She assisted the baby out by using the tips of her fingers to pull the head out. I couldn't understand the unbearable pain, because I didn't experience this with Shep. It felt like he or she was stuck, but finally the baby came all the way out.
Finally, they laid baby Hurst on my stomach, but I couldn't tell if I was holding a baby girl or boy. I was completely fatigued, terrified, and relieved to have this sweet baby that I wasn't thinking to ask. Everyone's faces still showed worry and all I could think about was, "why isn't my baby crying?!" I immediately started rubbing his or her chest saying "cry baby," when someone said, "don't stimulate her!" So I thought, "I have girl?! Why isn't she crying?!" My eyes started to tear up as I watched them rapidly cut and clamp the cord before transporting the baby over to the NICU table. Then out came a loud "wahhhh" from those sweet baby lips. Finally the nurse shouted out the long awaited words, "it's a BOY!!!" They took him off me to suction his lungs of the meconium. It only took a minute total, but in that 60 seconds I laid there in disbelief that I had actually done this - twice. I had TWO baby boys and they were here. His APGAR score was an 8 and he was quickly put back on my chest for some skin to skin time.
Judah Beau Hurst arrived at 12:20pm 2 days after the due date and after 20 minutes of pushing. He weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and measured 20 inches long. My experience was drug free with no problems making recovery a piece of cake. We love our little JBeau.
Rugged Joy Photography