I had completely convinced myself that I would magically just know a few days before I went into labor. I did not want to get myself all worked up for a false alarm so I was in denial when my labor started. Bags had been packed for weeks and Bobby was on edge and ready.
A few days before…
Late in the morning on Friday, August 24th, Bobby and I decided to get coffee and read at Starbucks. We were planning on going hiking later that day to a beautiful overlook nearby. My due date was 5 days away and we all know how rare it is to go early or even on time with your first. We got to Starbucks and I texted one of my friends we had been wanting to hang out with to see if she wanted to meet us there. Around 11am I started to feel mild cramping. I had experienced some Braxton hicks a few times the past few weeks but this was different. I had started staring off in the distance contemplating what I was feeling. Bobby noticed instantly. He said, “Shelly, what’s going on?” I tried to reassure him that it was nothing but I’m a bad liar. He insisted we go home. I called my friend and told her that we were leaving because I felt a little strange but I assured her that it couldn’t be labor so we would talk soon about hanging out.
We got home and Bobby made me sit down and he just stared at me. I kept telling him that people often have mild contractions for days. He wanted to call the doctor just to check in. I told him that’s ridiculous, I’m sure this is nothing. They won’t do anything unless you have been having contractions for awhile and they are at least a minute long and a few minutes apart consistently. He agreed to wait but insisted on timing what I assured him were not contractions. They were indeed contractions but I still thought it was just false labor and would subside soon. I wanted to walk around to see if they got better or worse. We walked around campus and the contractions increased as did the tension. Bobby continued trying to get me to admit this was the real thing and I kept trying to disagree. By the end of our walk my contractions were consistent and painful enough that I had to stop walking and brace myself with each one.
I finally caved and called my doctor around 3pm. They said to give it one more hour and call back if the contractions continued. By 4pm I was starting to entertain the idea that this may actually be labor as I paced and grimaced with increasingly painful contractions. We called back and they said to come to the hospital. I refused to let Bobby call any family just in case this wasn’t it. As we drove to the hospital my pain slowed and I started second guessing things. “Bobby, maybe it stopped. We should turn around.” Bobby replied firmly,”Shelly, you are in labor and we are going to the hospital.” Still hesitant I said,”But I haven’t had a contraction in a few min… Ohhhhh!!!!” Then I had the worst one yet.
We got to the hospital and they quickly checked us in and brought us to a room. I still wouldn’t let Bobby call anyone or bring the bags in from the car until the doctor checked me and said I was in labor. I think the reason I kept denying that I was in labor is because I did not want to mentally start thinking this was happening and get all psyched out until I was sure it was the real thing.
The doctor came and checked me and said I was about 3.5cm dilated and 100% effaced. I think I asked her, “So I am really am having this baby now aren’t I?” She smiled and said yes. I finally let Bobby get the bags and we both called our moms. They were sooo excited and so was I. This was really happening.
This is me so pumped and ready to have this baby…
I still felt pretty good. I think I have a fairly high pain tolerance from multiple injuries and spine surgeries. Mentally the contractions were manageable, at this point, because even though they were getting increasingly painful, I knew I had a break in between. My birth plan was one bullet point; get an epidural. I told my nurse this and asked her to tell me when I should get one. I told her my pain was tolerable and I wanted to do whatever she recommended. Bobby and I walked around the unit on and off for a few hours. I’m slightly competitive and wanted to be the lap record.
They checked me again at 7:30pm and said I was progressing well and currently at 5cm. My pain was increasing but still not awful. A little after 8pm they said the anesthesiologist was going into a c-section soon so I should get my epidural now before he gets stuck in there. I agreed without hesitation as my pain was getting pretty bad and I did not want to lose my window of time.
Because of my spine surgeries, the doctors all along said they were not sure if the epidural would work. They tell everyone that its not guaranteed because every person responds differently but my spine was even more unpredictable. I tried to not think too much about this. As they came in to place the epidural, I was really nervous. I was scared about them placing it as I had to be completely still amidst contractions. I was even more worried that it might not work. Thankfully, they placed it easily and it didn’t even hurt very much. More importantly, it relieved my pain almost immediately.
I felt like I was cheating. I felt great and seriously did not feel any pain. I still felt sensation and could feel my legs. It was so surreal to be in labor and to be watching tv, chatting with Bobby, scrolling through Facebook, and texting my family and close friends updates on my progress.
By 10pm I was 7cm. They came in at 11pm and the doctor said she was going to break my water to keep things moving. I had never met this doc before and I never saw her again. Maybe because when she broke my water is sprayed all over her. I almost vommed. I was so grossed out as was she I’m sure. But let’s be honest, she’s done this before and you’d think she would have taken some precautions.
By 1pm I was 10cm and it was time to push, so exciting! Simultaneously my epidural had completely worn off, I felt everything, not exciting. I was terrified. The midwife who was on call was the one who was going to deliver the baby. Thankfully, she was awesome. She was so calm, I felt like we were having tea.
Okay, so pause for a moment. Everyone has heard horror stories of women being in labor for days with their first child. This was in the back of my mind. When I started pushing, with no relief from the epidural, there were many moments that I kept thinking/ declaring, are we close?! It was so hard and so painful but thinking it may last for hours was almost too much. Thankfully the nurses, midwife, and Bobby were awesome. I didn’t want them to say you are doing great if I really wasn’t. I wanted to hear actual progress and I wanted to know how I could do better with each push. I never thought I would need people to remind me to breathe, but I did. I may or may not have yelled at one point, “I can’t do this!!!” They assured me that I could, I had my doubts for sure.
I ended up only pushing for 40 minutes then at 1:53 AM, August 25th Chale Gabriel Ross was born!!! He was 8 pounds 3 ounces and 20 inches long. I can’t even describe the extreme emotions of relief, pure joy, and exhaustion that I felt. Then they wrapped Chale up and laid him on my chest. Oh my goodness, I was overcome with the realization that I was finally holding my son. That moment, I became a mom.
Bobby cut the cord, we stared and cried and laughed, smitten with our son. They cleaned him up and then gave Chale back and I couldn’t stop looking at him. I couldn’t believe moments ago he was inside me and now he was in my arms.
After getting his little foot prints…
My sweet baby boy…
Okay so lets recap. I’ve heard it’s pretty common, especially for your first, for your water to not break. I was glad I labored at home for a good bit in the beginning so when I went to the hospital things were already progressing well. I definitely loved getting the epidural. It made the experience so much more enjoyable. Some people can progress very slowly because of the toll pain and exhaustion puts on their body so the epidural can be so helpful to relax your body so you can progress through labor. I’ve heard others say if you are progressing well, an epidural can slow your labor so you may not want to get one too early or perhaps at all if you are moving along well. Every person is different and will respond differently. I loved my epidural, even though it wore off. Basically I only had 40 minutes of horrible pain, that’s not too bad. In some ways the pushing probably went quicker because I could feel everything.
Bobby and I had such sweet, special times in the hospital. It was just us and Chale. I loved that it was quiet and peaceful and that we got to just soak in being new parents. Looking back, I liked having time with just the three of us the first few weeks. We needed that time to start figuring things out, rest as much as we could, have more than a few meltdowns, and most of all to cuddle and hold Chale as much as we wanted.
Our little family…
Remember I told you after the miscarriage how I prayed and God gave me a vision of Bobby and I walking with a stroller down a path lined with trees? The day after we got home from the hospital, we went for a walk around campus and when we were walking on this path it hit me. I started tearing up and I said to Bobby, “This is what the Lord showed me, this place. This is the answer to my prayer.”
Those first few weeks were so hard. I felt so overwhelmed. I was exhausted and thought multiple times I have no idea what I’m doing. Then I would remember God’s incredible faithfulness in getting us to this place and blessing us with this precious baby. I had to remind myself daily, hourly that God would continue to walk with us every step of the way.