Our baby boy Greyson James is a YEAR old today, and we STILL haven’t shared his birth story. They say that when raising a baby, the nights are long but the years are short. We’ve found this to be so true! The sleep deprivation was real (thankfully I can now say “was”) and there were some nights that seemed to never end. But here we are, one year later. We made it. And somehow, his birth feels like just the other week. It has been such a joy watching our little boy grow up, but there’s also this sadness, because I know each new year will only go faster than the one before. Being a parent is weird, guys. So weird. I’m constantly feeling alllll the emotions, ha!
So – skipping back a year and a few days now. Other than it being New Year’s Day, Sunday, January 1st 2017 was a pretty normal day. I was 39 weeks and 5 days along. That past week, our doctor was still pretty convinced that I would probably need to be induced a week after my due date. I wasn’t dilated or effaced AT ALL. Because we wanted as natural of a birth as possible, that’s not something we wanted to happen. So we prayed, and our families prayed. Following old wive’s tales, I was eating spicy food for almost every meal, and that evening Mikey and I took a walk around our neighborhood. My mom and I made plans to go get pedicures the next day (something about foot massage is supposed to help bring on labor), and I decided that I would take down our Christmas tree and decorations. After all – I wouldn’t have time to do that with a newborn! And then we went to bed.
At 6:00 am, I woke up feeling a small trickle. Honestly, it was barely anything – and although something was telling me “your water is breaking”, my rational brain said “no, it can’t be. This little boy must have just kicked my bladder REALLY hard”. HA! But I got out of bed and walked into our bathroom. That’s when there was a GUSH. I think I just blinked once or twice and said to myself “you’ve got to be kidding me”. And then louder, “Mikey? I think my water just broke!”
He thought I was joking, but after reassuring him that no, something was definitely happening, he got out of bed and we started to get ready to go to the hospital.
Our birth class taught us that based on what I was feeling (zero contractions), there was no need to rush. So I took a shower, dried and straightened by hair, did my makeup and ate “breakfast”…tomato basil soup. Yes…tomato basil soup at 7:00 in the morning. We had also been told in class that although I should probably eat, it shouldn’t be something heavy that would sit in my stomach. The only thing in our house that fit the bill (and sounded anywhere near appetizing #pregnant remember?) – soup!
Meanwhile, Michael went through our checklists (yes, multiple lists – I don’t function without them!), and then I double checked 😉 I then tried to calmly call my mom and told her there was no need for pedicures that day. We tried calling Michael’s parents, but considering the doctor’s opinion that it would be at least two more weeks until it was baby time, their phones were on silent! We texted the family group text and let them know what was going on, then got in the car.
Once we were driving, I looked over at Michael and said, “did you eat anything this morning?!” He said he hadn’t, so we made a stop at Chick-fil-A. I decided against ordering anything for myself, because again, no heavy foods! I’d later come to regret this decision (spoiler alert!).
When we got to the hospital, we told a security guard that my water had broken and we were looking for the birth center parking. He got all flustered and told us to pull up to the door and that someone would take me up in a wheelchair!
It’s important to note that at this point, I felt absolutely NOTHING. No contractions. Not even cramping. Other than my water breaking, I still felt completely normal… and fully capable of walking. But the security guard had a different opinion! Haha!
I was taken to triage to be evaluated. Considering I did not look like I was anywhere near giving birth, the nurse told me she had to do a test to see if in fact my water had broken (there was no doubt in my mind that it had). She only got halfway through the test before deciding that yes, it definitely had.
But then she checked me. 0cm dilated, 0% effaced. For those of you that don’t know – that’s nowhere near where I would need to be to actually have a baby. And that was exactly why our doctor thought I would go past my due date! Um, what? Pregnant women are further along than that weeks out from birth ALL THE TIME. And yet here we were. We were told that they like to wait at least 6 hours to see if contractions would start naturally.
So there we were in the hospital. Me, feeling like a completely normal (super pregnant) person. By 10:00 I was already starving again (let me reiterate – super pregnant!! I was hungry all the time!). And I wasn’t allowed to eat ANYTHING (even applesauce). Cue the regret of not ordering Chick-fil-A.
My parents came in to keep us company. Then Mikey’s family came. Everyone prayed over us. If my contractions didn’t start naturally, I essentially would need to be induced anyway, just a week earlier than expected.
Around 5pm, nothing was happening. Still. NOT. EVEN. A. TWINGE. Friends, 90% of women don’t experience their water breaking until serious, hard labor. Of course I had to be in that 10%! Haha! When I was pregnant, I envisioned the excitement of getting my first contraction. We’d be at home, I’d start feeling them, and I’d tell Michael. We would look at each other in excitement over the realization that we were finally having our baby. We’d eventually start timing, and then we’d finally go into the hospital. #Dreams
Instead, I was given medication to help things get started. Then another one at 9. Around 9:30, everyone was back in our room, and I was starting to feel some cramping that I thought might be contractions. They all left around 10, and shortly after I knew that these were DEFINITELY contractions. By 11:45, they were already 4 minutes apart – there was no easing into it! And they HURT.
At 1:00 am I was checked again, and although I wasn’t dilated, there was some other progress – most notably that Greyson had dropped pretty low! But my contractions just kept getting stronger and stronger, still between 3 1/2 – 4 minutes apart. I have a pretty high pain tolerance (friends, I broke my elbow in 2nd or 3rd grade and didn’t cry), so I was really hoping to be able to do labor naturally.
Just to remind you – we had woken up at 6:00 am and it was now after 1:00 am with no sleep, and minimal food for me. I remember being SO hungry. I just kept saying – “HOW do they expect me to have enough energy to HAVE A BABY when they won’t let me eat all day?!” Luckily my mother in law had snuck in some lollipops for me earlier, and they helped just enough!
Michael was my rock the entire time. He held me up when I couldn’t stand from the intense pain. He talked me through every single one. He helped time contractions. He made sure calming music was playing (we had a whole playlist, but eventually just put “Oceans” by Hillsong United on repeat – and then he ended up playing just a section of that for me over and over). He must have been exhausted, but he didn’t show it for a second. There is absolutely no way I could have done it without him.
So at this point, the feeling and timing of contractions were similar to the active (hard) stage of labor because of the medication I was on, even though I was technically still in the first stage of labor. Contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and STRONG. Basically, it felt like the baby SHOULD be coming within a few hours, but in reality I had much longer to go. I couldn’t imagine being in that much pain for any longer, especially knowing that I wasn’t going to be meeting Greyson anytime soon.
I was still scared of getting an epidural. I’m the type of person that gets side effects from almost every medication. Epidural side effects, though rare, can be pretty terrifying. I didn’t want to risk it if I didn’t have to. So first we tried a drug through my IV around 3:00 am. This helped my pain for about 20 minutes, and then it came back. But the side effect was drowsiness. I was SO tired that I fell asleep each time a contraction ended. I would then wake up 2-3 minutes later, writhing in pain and crying with my next contraction.
Finally, one of the nurses took pity on me. She came in to check on my progress, took one look at me, and asked if I wanted to try to take a shower. This had been on my birth plan but they hadn’t allowed it due to my circumstances – I needed to be hooked up to monitoring machines at all times at that point. So she unhooked me and Mikey helped me to the bathroom – I was so exhausted I could barely stand up, even when I wasn’t having a contraction!
I sat down in the shower and was literally falling asleep again in between contractions. It was at this point that I started telling Michael that I couldn’t do this anymore. I was sobbing and kept telling him I felt like I was going to die (I knew it was going to be hard but I never anticipated it being THAT hard), and I needed an epidural NOW. He ran out to the nurses station to ask for one, then came back to help me back to bed.
A nurse came to check me, and said I was still only 3cm dilated. I’m pretty sure I cried. She said it was normally too early for an epidural and that I would need to get between 5-7cm, but she would check with her boss to see if they could make an exception. Luckily, the powers that be, whoever they were, said yes. Around 5:30 am, I got my epidural. It felt like ages before it finally started working, but it did. Michael I was finally able to sleep after almost 24 hours of being awake.
It’s important to note that doctors typically like to see you deliver less than 24 hours after your water breaks. Any longer than that, and there are risks of complications and possibly a c section (baby is losing so much of the amniotic fluid, so that totally makes sense!). We were coming up on that timeframe quickly with little progress. Thankfully, all of my vitals were fine as were Greyson’s – he was showing no signs of distress. Around 7:00 I woke up and our new nurse said that our doctor wanted to start pitocin soon to get things moving. Around 9:00, still at 3cm dilated, it went into my IV.
Shortly after, I started to feel painful contractions again. My pain level quickly shot up to an 8. But now that I had gotten the epidural, I wanted to make sure it was actually worth it! There was no way I was dealing with level 8 contractions if I didn’t have to, haha. I was able to push a button to get more of the epidural every 15 minutes, so Michael timed it and that’s what I did!
Our families came back in the morning. By the time they were there, I was feeling pretty great. The epidural was luckily working like magic. Powerful contractions flashed across the monitor, but I didn’t feel a thing. Not even a twinge. I got cleaned up, put my hair up, and did my make up. My sister in law was going to be taking pictures of the birth for us, so why look like a disaster if I didn’t need to? Ha!
The pitocin started working. Nurses came in to check on me, and each time there was progress. Finally, the nurse told us it was time to call in the doctor, because I was at 9/9.5 cm and Greyson would be making his entrance soon! This was around 1:00, 30 hours after my water had broken.
Because my epidural was working so well (technically TOO well – I believe you’re supposed to be able to feel something to help push during contractions, and I still couldn’t feel a thing), the nurse told me she wanted to do some practice pushes with me before the doctor came in. We had some fantastic nurses in those 30 hours, but I’m so glad she was the one there at that point. We trusted her immediately and she was so full of wisdom.
While this was happening, we found out that our doctor had been at another hospital delivering another baby! He was on his way, but although she hardly showed it, our nurse was getting nervous. We heard her tell other staff that we needed him ASAP, and finally she said “we need the doctor NOW”. Just a few pushes in, and we could see Greyson’s head already!
Again, I’m not feeling anything at this point. I was basically just doing sit ups when the nurse told me to! And I know that’s not necessarily how things are supposed to happen, but after the insane night we had, I was so grateful. There was no stress, no pain. Just pure emotion – I was overjoyed that we were finally going to meet him! His head kept coming further and further out and the nurse told us “I’ve delivered babies before. I don’t want to, I’d much rather the doctor be here, but if I need to I can”. And just like that, our doctor walked through the door!
Two or three more pushes and Greyson was born! It was 2:20pm. And I was sobbing again – but this time because of joy. I looked over at Michael and he was crying too. We had waited so long for this precious little boy. We had gone to so many doctors appointments. I had taken so many pills, and put so many shots in my stomach. We had seen so many negative pregnancy tests. This was the moment we had waited for, for years. Greyson was nothing short of a miracle. So I sobbed. And I sobbed.
The nurses put him on my chest for less than a minute and then whisked him away for what seemed like eternity. They put him on the scale across the room. Through my crying, I heard what sounded like “six three”. I looked over at Michael and said “did they just say six pounds three ounces?!” Our doctor had predicted over 7 pounds for most of our ultrasounds! He was such a peanut!
Then they put him in the bassinet, and Michael stood over him and held Greyson’s hand as they cleaned him up and checked him. I remember being so jealous in that moment. I wanted to scream at the nurses “please, give me my baby!” But at the same time, I loved that sight. My husband had finally become a father, and it was one of the most beautiful moments I’d ever witnessed.
Everything after that was a blur. Family came to visit and we were transferred to a different room. Greyson was doing great, but then in the middle of the night we found out that he had jaundice, most likely due to the pitocin. We ended up staying a total of 4 days in the hospital, which was exhausting. But finally, on January 6th, we got to take our baby home! And what a year it’s been since then! 🙂
Thank you, Lydia Corbett Photography, for capturing Greyson’s birth for us! We will cherish those images forever!