Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sullivan's Birth Story

I don't really know when to start my birth story, because honestly, I have felt like I've been in labor since the day I went in on December 23rd with contractions 2 minutes apart. Ever since that day it has been in out of the hospital for 8 weeks with contractions, bed rest, and just general misery.

I really believe that I started to get slightly...ok really depressed as days passed by and I was still pregnant and still contracting. It is not that I wanted a preterm baby, it's just I wanted my life back. I wanted to not be so snappy at my husband, I wanted to run around a play with my 2 year old, I wanted to have an answer other than, "TERRIBLE" every time someone asked me how I was feeling.

Despite all the preterm labor, and the false labor...I really truly didn't believe in my heart that I would have this baby till early March. Even though my due date was the 23rd of February. I just knew I would be late and those few weeks standing inbetween me and Sullivan's arrival offered no glimmer of relief of those darn contractions.

I guess I will start my birth story about thirty minutes after church on Sunday. I didn't want to go to church because I didn't want to polietly nod my head and smile at all the people who would inevidablly point out that I was still pregnant. But I knew it would be good for me to have some fellowship, so I went. I sat through all the worship songs and about 5 minutes of the sermon because I started to get some painful contractions and I think I was really freaking the lady next to me out as I would lurch forward and clutch my belly every few minutes. So I finally left and sat in the hall waiting for church to end. I got to talk to two good friends who were so comforting and just let me wine and complain. They had such compassion for me and left me feeling a lot better.

In the car on the way to drop my dad off at his assisted living place, I was stretched out in the back seat having contractions, but I still didn't even start to hope that this was it. All of a sudden I had a hard contraction and felt a gush and figured out that I had lost my mucus plug. Even then I started reminding myself that some people could go 2 weeks after loosing their mucus plug. We then went to celelbrate my Grandfather's birthday at my mom's house about 30 minutes away. I walked in the house and was surprised to hear my mother exclaim how awful and tired I looked. She said, "Honey, you can't go another day. I think you're gonna have that baby tonight!". So I sat next to the fire and rocked and winced and cried a little bit. I just didn't think it was going to happen and the fact that these hurt so bad was just ruining my day, instead of getting me closer to a baby. They were every two minutes. I felt slightly out of it as I watched the family from afar, singing, talking and eating cake. I went home and tried to take a nap but was woken up by contractions. I took a several baths (my coping mechanism). I just felt awful. I laid in bed as Barclay ran wild and watched several episodes of Ugly Betty on our ipad to try to distract me. All of this time, I was all fours rocking back and forth.

I put Barclay to bed and Noah and I started up a movie. I started crying out of desperation and told him I wanted to go to the hospital but I was scared they'd send me home again. Half way through the movie, Noah texted my sister to come watch Barclay while we went. When she got there it took me about an hour to get up the nerve to call the midwife about going in. As soon as I placed the call and knew we were for sure going in, I started to freak out and cry. I knew that they were going to send me home. I didn't even take my suitcase or camera with us.

They admitted me into triage and checked me and I was still 1 1/2 like I had been for weeks. They did confirm my horrid contractions every 2 minutes...but they had been like that for week so it wasn't anything to them. They went through all the questions they have to ask you, like are you bleeding? Do you feel suicidal? When they asked me if I was feeling suicidal, I teared up and said, "I think I will if you send me home." The midwife said I should walk for a while and then they would check me one more time before sending me home. So I started walking...and I walked for an hour and a half down this one hall. After 10 minutes Noah went back to the room and slept, but I walked. It was pretty special because I started out walking being very upset and angry that I was being sent home, but as I walked, I started to pray softly to myself. I spent nearly the whole time praying to God and every step I took I started to realize that I was going to have that baby soon and that wether or not they sent me home, I knew this was it. There was such a peace that came over me. After all my walking they checked me and I was still 1 1/2...but she said changes were happening. She said I could stay a couple more hours and see if it progressed or we could go home and try to rest since we only live a mile from the hospital. By this time the contractions are really hard and I know I will not be able to rest, but I knew Noah could. So we went home. The whole way home I stopped and screamed with contractions. I was so puzzled as to why we were going home at all with contractions this painful. Once home Noah slept and I tried to watch Ugly Betty and fall asleep. But I couldn't sit still. I was in and out of the bath tub, moaning and crying. Finally after 3 hours I woke Noah up and told him to get in the car now. I took my suitcase this time. We got to the hospital around 4:30 am and I was 3! Slightly discouraging for all the hours that had passed, and all the painful contractions I'd had, but still it was progress. Then I heard those sweet blessed words, "We are admitting you."
It's amazing the relief I felt at that moment. All the weeks of wondering were behind me and I was going to have a baby that day! It was also amazing because Noah, who had previously been in not the best of moods and was very tired and cranky, flipped a switch and instantly became excited and supportive.
They moved us into the natural childbirth suite, which after being in the hospital so many times with it's beeping machines and fluorescent lighting, was like walking into a spa. It had a full sized bed in it, a huge tub for labor and birthing, soft lighting, a flat screen tv with soothing sounds on it and things like ducks floating and clouds moving playing.

From 3 to 7 cm I actually had an amazing experience. As soon as they told me I was in labor, I relaxed. I could finally concentrate on bringing my baby into the world and not worry about if I was in labor or if I wasn't. The midwife helped me be able to concentrate on getting the baby to move down and open my cervix. The best way I labored was sitting on a birthing ball in the tub and taking the shower head and letting it pour over my belly. I would just sway from side to side and really try to let the contraction do it's work. When I had Barclay, I was fighting the contractions because I didn't even know what was going on and I was in so much pain. I could literally feel my hips moving and the baby moving down. It didn't feel good, but it was definitely an incredible feeling. All of the nurses and my midwife were so sweet and encouraging, one nurse even brought me peppermint oil on cotton balls to smell to help me relax.
Noah was INCREDIBLE the whole time. He told me at least every minute that he was proud of me and that I could do it. Every contraction he would push really hard on the small of my back to help with back labor. We walked, we talked in between contractions about how excited and blessed we were to get to have this experience again. To get to fall in love with another baby and to bond with each other. After the rough two months we had it was wonderful to be so in tune with one another for a full day. Birth is such an intimate experience. It was so soothing and relaxing and I was getting really excited about having my natural water birth I had always dreamed of...
Then I hit 7 cm and I went kind of nuts. I can't explain the pain I started feeling. Pain so bad that I couldn't control myself. I started jumping out of the water and standing up on the side of the tub. I screamed the F word for probably 5 hours...appologizing in between contractions for cussing. I tried so hard to be calm and let the contractions do their work, but every contraction I felt like someone was jabbing a knife into my spine and paralizing me. I was screaming "I can't. I can't. I can't."
I remember Noah looking at the midwife and saying, "I think it's so cute that she keeps telling herslef she CAN."
The midwife laughed and told him I was saying "CAN'T"
They finally told me the water birth was off because it was too dangerous to have me leaping out of the tub every minute or so. Then I just sort of went crazy. I was completely naked, in the most unflattering positions all around the room. I started begging for a c section. Begging for them to get a vaccum cleaner to get the baby out. Begging for the them to kill me. Poor Noah was wonderful but every time I was touched I felt like my body was about to explode. At one point I was almost choking on my wet hair because it was all in my face, but I couldn't let anyone touch me to get it back. At another point I was chewing on the big smiley face beanbag I was clutching. I knew I was acting crazy but I literally could not get a grip on myself the pain was so severe. I think I might have had about 20 sane minutes within that 5 hour period, where I would count very loud and bang the wall with my hand. I would count slowly to 30 and then I knew I would have a tiny bit of relief before the next one hit. But even that didn't last long.
The midwives said that a combination of Sullivan crowning on the SIDE of his head, being in the posterior position, and how long the labor was all added together for a really tough labor.
At one point, not quite, my sister (who is due a month after me) came in to video and take pictures of the birth because Noah knew he couldn't do it with me rolling all over the place.

Finally when they said I was ready to push, a panick overtook me and I realized I had zero energy. I hadn't eaten but a few bites of soup in a whole day, I hadn't slept in almost 40 hours. I was praying that this would be one of those second time labors where the baby would come out in two pushes. I started pushing on the birthing stool then I went back and forth between that and squatting by the side of the bed. I have NEVER felt so much pain in my life as I did when I started pushing. I literally felt like my body was slowly seperating into two. About 20 minutes into pushing I realized that I wanted to quit. I wanted to stop the whole thing dead in it's tracks...and then I realized like one does after they clip you into the roller coaster that there was no turning back. No matter if I quit or not, my body was still going to have these horrible contrcations. So I better just get him out.

I felt like I was coming in and out of conciousness as I kept pushing for what felt like several hours but was actually only one. I was sitting on the birthing stool with Noah behind me. I would reach behind me and grab onto his arms for support. I would say, "I need you to hold me!" and then two seconds later, "You're hurting me!" back and forth. The whole time I was just begging them to let me die.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, his head came out and I felt so much pressure release. I thought I had finally had him! All of a sudden the room started spinning and our midwife was calling for help. Next thing I know she is screaming that I have to get in another position. Noah scoops me up and throws me on the bed. Next thing I know, a nurse is stradling me pushing on my belly. Noah and another nurse are pulling my legs back as far as they could. Everything was spinning and they were all yelling, "Push. Push. Push!" "You're baby's life depends on it!" "You're baby is going to die if you don't push now."
I was in such shock in and in so much pain that I couldn't find the muscles to push. With all that release of pressure I couldn't find what to push. The midwife ended up holding Sullivan's head and they flipped my body from my back to my front several times to try to cork screw him out. Finally after 3 minutes (which felt like an eternity), the rest of his body came out.
I have never been so out of it in my life. I couldn't move, I couldn't cry, I couldn't think. I had no clue what had happened to me. I thought maybe I was dead or maybe that they had broken my hips to get him out. I remember looking at this one light and not being able to even turn my head even a tiny bit, to grab a peak of the baby. Next the room, now filled with doctors and nurses, was spinning, everyone was yelling. Noah was crying and asking if they could find a heart beat. I then realized that maybe after all of that, our little one wasn't going to make it. But I couldn't cry. I couldn't even comprehend the pain that would bring.

As soon as his head came out, they noticed that the chord was wrapped around his neck and he was grey. Then they discovered that his shoulder was stuck.
My sister said that when he was born, he just flopped on to the bed and lay there while they cut his chord. He was grey and lifeless and she thought he was dead.
2 minutes after he was born they got him breathing and about 7 minutes after he was born, he started to cry.

I still hadn't stopped looking at the light and I still didn't know what had really happened. The one part I was concerned about with delivering naturally was delivering the placenta and getting stiches. But I had always told myself that I would have a baby to look at and that I could distract myself.
Instead about 20 minutes after the birth, laying in a pool of my own blood, with my legs spread open and the room full of bustling people, they finally delivered the placenta and stitched me up. Thank goodness my sister was there to hold my hand, because Noah was over to the side with the baby.
I was in so much pain, and then they had to give me a shot of pitocin because my uterus wasn't contracting enough to keep from hemorrhaging. So after a shot in the leg and lots of neading of my uterus, the contractions were back. I couldn't believe that I was still in that much pain so long after delivering!
It was about 25 minutes after he was born that I got to finally hold Sullivan. It was not like I had imagined in a bath tub, warm, and quiet and peaceful. But all that matters was that I was holding him, he was here and he was alive. Our poor baby was black and blue with bruises and looked so rough! They had to do an xray within the first hour to see if he had broken his shoulder, which thankfully he had not.

Family came in and out, Barclay came in and saw him and I just was so out of it. Around midnight they gave me a percocet for the pain and I let them take the baby to the nursery. I can't believe I let them do that with my brand newborn! But I was so tired and in pain that I knew I couldn't take care of him.
2 hours later they woke me up to feed him. I felt a million times better, he had been bathed and cleaned up, and he looked so much better. Then I fed him and he slept for the next five hours...almost all of which I stared at him and fell in love. We had our special bonding time just a little later than most.

Henry "Sullivan" George was born on Valentines Day, February 14, 2011 at 7:54 pm.
8 lbs 8 oz, 22 inches long.

I have already been able to move on from the scariness of the birth, and now I am just praising the Lord for the blessing of another son to raise and love.

Praise the Lord I have been healing quickly and I feel like I am back to my old self again. The non puking, non contracting, regular me...:-)


  1. Good Lord Helen Joy. Thank you for opening my eyes to the pains of labor. lol I can't even begin to describe to you the array of emotions I felt from reading your blog. First of all, I'm very glad you all are ok and doing well now. Secondly, I am mortified of my own labor now. lol But thank you for sharing. :-) I can relate to your story as I was not breathing when I was born for the first seven minutes. Had the cord wrapped around my neck as well and was taken out by emergency c-section. Congratulations on your little one, and for your strength. :-)


  2. Helen Joy! you are AMAZING. so sorry it was such a scary experience for you, but am so glad that sweet little sullivan is here and doing so well! thank you for sharing your birth story. you are such a WONDERFUL mama!!!

  3. Congratulations to you having anew Valentine..

  4. oh my goodness HJ you make me cry when I read your blog sometimes! I was so wrapped up in your story that even though I knew he was okay in the end I was holding my breath and reading fast as I could when you said people started screaming and stuff!

    I love you. I am so proud of you for making it through another terribly difficult labor without an epidural! Good work momma! That's something that most mommmas can't say.

  5. HJ, I have to agree with the others about the range of emotions while reading. I felt your frustration of wanting to be in labor. I was wowed by your endurance during difficult contractions. I cried when I read about them telling you to "push like your baby's life depends on it" and Noah asking if they found a heartbeat. Oh my! Part of me wishes you didn't have to go through all that trauma. But the other part of me is rejoicing in God's protection of Sullivan's life and yours. Our lives are in His hands - from first breath to last.
    Now I want you to promise me that we will get together this summer with our new babies.
    Much love,

  6. I just found your blog, and I love how you express your stories to us readers... so honest and true to yourself I feel. You are an amazing woman. Good luck to you and your boys!
    And... I have sat here reading post after post of yours becuase like I said its so honest unlike some blogs I have read.


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