judah hayes birth story.
I have always loved reading birth stories. Give me all the details and don’t spare a single one. This story will be just that, so consider yourself warned if you don’t like the details :)
I woke up that Sunday morning on September 9th, 8 days past my “due date” (which I think is cruel to place on any pregnant mama because we all know once that day passes it sends us into a spiraling mess, but I digress) and rolled away from facing Benton in bed so I could cry because my body had failed me. Not because growing a child for nine months isn’t enough of a success, but because the birth I dreamed of having wasn’t going to happen thanks to an impending induction later that evening. *I want to also note here, that every woman’s birth experience is different. No matter how it happens, it is still incredible, your body is amazing & it’s all a gift.* We saw our midwife three days prior and she told me I was 80% effaced & 1.5cm dilated. She had planned on stripping my membranes at this appointment if I wasn’t dilated much, but decided not to since Judah had a 2 vessel umbilical cord and was positive for group b strep. Also, for that same reason she decided to schedule an induction 3 days later because Judah wouldn’t be healthy if he stayed in longer on that cord. I had planned to go in and ask her if she would let me go another week (a typical length for a first time pregnancy is 42 weeks and a day) and I figured she would let me because out of all our midwives, she was the most naturally focused. She told me no and I trusted her. Our midwife clinic had 5-6 midwives and you couldn’t plan for who you had at your birth, it was just up to whoever was on call that day. There were 2 that we prayed for. One that we knew personally from church and this one that we came to love from her natural perspective that was inline with ours. We prayed for one of them to be on call when I went into labor and sure enough, the one with more of a natural focus was scheduled for the day after my induction.
I spent most of that day resting in bed. I also spent a lot of that day praying and crying asking the Lord to still allow my body to go into labor naturally. However, 5:30pm rolled around and we got ready to head to the hospital. We had to be there at 6:30pm to check in and I wanted to grab a smoothie from smoothie king as my last meal. We grabbed the smoothie and I realized we had forgotten my wallet at home, which I would need at the hospital to check in. This of course made us late to my induction, which I thought was hilarious since I didn’t want to be there for it anyway. They checked us into room 106 when we got there. They told me I was already having contractions and once they pointed out when they were happening, I realized I had been having them for weeks. I had just been saying I was cramping, having no idea that’s what a contraction felt like (hello first timer)! They started hooking me up to their monitoring system and I quickly told them that my midwife said I wasn’t going to have to be on monitoring during labor unless there was a problem. This was one of those things I was pretty firm on, I wanted to labor everywhere BUT the bed and I knew the monitoring would keep me in the bed or close-by unable to to move freely. Unfortunately, it made me so upset that my blood pressure spiked….of course, right before they took my blood pressure. The nurses became concerned and I tried to explain that I had perfect blood pressure through my entire pregnancy and it was solely because I was upset about this monitoring situation. I’m sure I was their most delightful patient that night.
The midwife we had that evening was from another practice in Atlanta who does work for our clinic sporadically. One of our two favorites midwives told me that I would love this midwife, Michelle, because she was even more naturally focused than everyone else in our practice, so I was eager to meet her. She was my kind of gal. Fiery, blunt and strong. She came in and went over my birth plan with me. She decided to start me on cervidil around 9pm in hopes that it would ripen my cervix and Julie, our midwife, would come in monday morning, September 10th to try a foley balloon and then start pitocin if nothing had happened by that point. Michelle told us that for 29/30 women, the cervidil does nothing, but it was worth a try. The goal was to get some rest that evening since the hard work would come the next day. I had to pee around 10pm but wasn’t allowed to get up because of the cervidil so the nurse came in with a bed pan. It felt like I was wetting the bed...so unnatural and just weird. I started having some back pain, nausea and hot flashes. I INHALED peppermint oil through most of my labor and it saved me on numerous occasions. I ate a snack around 11pm, all thanks to my doula Amy, who cared for us in the best of ways. I got up to walk around the room, all hooked up to my monitors and blood pressure cuff, which I now had on me permanently, thanks to me not being able to control my frustration in the beginning. We told Amy to go get some rest around midnight at her house and we’d let her know if anything changed.
I was in early labor with sporadic contractions, but feeling a ton of discomfort. I remember the nurse telling me that I wasn’t in labor and this was just part of the induction process but according to everything I read beforehand it seemed to be textbook early labor to me. She thought it best at this point to give me not one, but TWO ambien to help me sleep since “I would have a pretty big day tomorrow and I wasn’t in labor yet.” I have never been in labor before, so I just trusted her that she knew what she was talking about, but I looked at Benton and told him if this wasn’t labor, then there was no way I was going to make it without intervention. They checked me again around 1:30am and I was still sitting at 1.5cm dilated and a -3 station so I was pretty bummed that we were getting no sleep and I didn’t seem to be progressing much. I remembered reading that the more tense you get during labor, the longer it would take and the more painful it would be. I just tried to relax as much as I could which looked more mental than physical, because let’s be honest, your body is not really physically ‘resting’ during labor. It’s working and working hard. I got up to go to the bathroom around 2am and since I was unhooked from all the monitors I decided to do a little laboring in the bathroom. When you despise the monitors, you lie about how long you have to pee for and stay in there a little longer. I was holding on to Benton and swaying as he held me up. All at once we heard something pop like a balloon with a ton of liquid fall all over our feet. Benton quickly cleaned it up since we were standing in it. The nurse came in and we told her my water broke. She looked at the floor and said, “Well where’s all the water?” Benton told her that he cleaned it up and she assured us that it probably wasn’t my water breaking but that it might have started to trickle. I looked up angrily from laying on benton’s shoulder and told her it was for sure my water that broke and I was in labor now. (thanks for those 2 ambien a few hours ago when we told you I was in labor, by the way).
I had previously tested positive for group b strep, so they wanted to start me on the antibiotics around 3:30am once she FINALLY realized that I was in fact in labor. I started throwing up with contractions at this point. I was sitting on the birthing ball and puking in a bag that Benton held for me. Amy arrived back at this point and I was so thankful to have her there to help me remember all the things I read. Once you are in the thick of it, it is so easy to lose perspective and focus on the challenges of it. They checked me again and I was at 4.5 cm. Our midwife, Michelle, allowed me to come off all monitoring at this point as we ramped up for delivery and everyone in that room said, “Hallelujah!”. I got in the shower around 5am as Benton let the warm water flow on my back and our doula gave me an electrolyte drink to help boost me from the exhaustion. Remember the two ambien? I was practically asleep at this point. Amy and Michelle would place their hands on the parts of my body that I was tensing as a reminder to release and relax those parts. Again, something I was incredibly thankful for. The way they were versed in just laying their hands on those parts versus telling a laboring mama to relax (I think I would have punched someone) was incredibly helpful.
At this point, I was just moving around the room to do everything I could to stay comfortable. The bed was the most uncomfortable to me so I would sit one the ball, walk around or sway on Benton. I was huffing peppermint oil for the nausea and using my deep relief roller for all the tension. These two things SAVED me so much. Michelle checked me again right around 7am and I was at 7cm dilated. She noticed here that Judah had turned which is what was causing me so much back pain & the throwing up. She asked me to lie down on the bed so she could try to turn Judah with her fingers in hopes that would dilate me to 10cm. Sure enough, it worked. I stopped throwing up and the back pain completely subsided and by 7:30am I was fully dilated. We all noticed that I started grunting through my contractions at this point. I remember thinking something was wrong with me and I asked my doula why I was doing that. I felt like I could not control the sound and it was kind of comical to me. It sounded beast like. I literally felt like an animal. I also felt like I need to curl up in a ball and start pushing, but I would find out later that I should have held off just a little longer. I pushed in all positions: squatting on the floor and bed and on my back with the squat bar. I had this random break in my contractions for 10 minutes where I was able to get renewed energy. I felt that to be the grace of God because towards the end of pushing, Michelle noticed meconium and encouraged me to push harder than ever before. We had made it this far naturally and she knew I could go the rest of the way, but my time was limited. Looking back now, having that 10 minute break to rest, I believe allowed me to truly have the birth I desired. However, I remember in the moment saying over and over that I was done, I give up, my efforts are futile, nothing is happening, how much longer, I can’t do this anymore. I was the most exhausted I had ever been.
Our personal midwife that we loved came in around 8:30am and changed shifts with Michelle. We also had a new nurse named Angie that I think was an actual angel from heaven. She squatted on the floor with me as I would push, massaging my back and aiding Amy in relief techniques for me. I ended up getting in the bed so I could rest while pushing (oxymoron right?!). I pushed using the squat bar and I had to have help holding my head and neck up as I would push (still looking at you ambien). Judah’s heart rate started dropping in this position but it was where I was making the most progress. Judah crowned and we all knew we were nearing the end. They started encouraging me to keep going and push harder + longer. It felt like you were finishing the race and everyone was there at the sidelines just screaming you on except I didn’t feel like I got another wind to sprint it out. Judah’s head was halfway out and Julie just told me to sit here with the ring of fire until my next contraction and I had no other option but to push him out on that one. Benton started to tear up as he saw Judah and I think that was what I needed to finish strong. That last contraction came and so effortlessly, at 9:05am, our sweet 8lb 3oz baby boy was here (ten hours total with almost an hour and a half of pushing). I looked down barely able to open my eyes and saw him all covered in green and brown meconium. I initially wanted to delay chord clamping, but the NICU team clipped it immediately and started suctioning out his mouth + lungs. Julie was going to pull the placenta out because it was already loose, but because of Judah’s 2 vessel umbilical cord, it was too small to grasp so she told me to give one more push. As soon as it came out, there was projectile blood. Everyone told me that there’s a ton of blood in birth so I didn’t think much of it, but the look on Julie’s face made me feel otherwise. She pulled over a bag to start collecting it and measuring how much I was losing. I vaguely remember her telling our nurse Angie that she needed to get an OR room ready and then a few seconds later saying scratch that, we don’t have time to get her to the OR, we need a surgeon in here immediately. Within what felt like seconds, our room was flooded with people. I asked Julie what was going on and she told me I was losing a lot of blood and they thought it was coming from my cervix but they weren’t sure. Our doula told me later that the surgeon had her arms up in me all the way up to her elbows. They quickly figured out that I had to two internal tears on opposite sides of my vaginal wall and that i was about to undergo surgery right there in the room for the next hour…UNMEDICATED. I was terrified about how this was going to feel. They did give me a few shots in my leg to help numb the pain, but told me they weren’t sure if they would work fast enough. I ended up losing triple the amount of blood as a normal birth.
They laid Judah on my chest and I remember not even knowing what to feel. It was just so surreal this baby you grow for 9 months to be here in what feels like seconds. I kept tensing up during the surgery which caused my heart rate to go up and Judah started to cry, so Benton took him and got to do skin to skin. I am so thankful they had that time in his first few minutes of life. During those first two hours we held him, cried over him, he latched and breastfed like a champ. Those were the quietest, sweetest moments for us a now family of three. Everything was still in those moments.
We stayed at the hospital for two days after to ensure that I would not need a blood transfusion as your numbers typically drop 24 hours after birth. I would never wish that recovery on anyone, but I am so glad that it happened to me because of what ended up happening to Judah. At 4am, 42 hours after birth, Judah started to choke. When we turned the light on in our room, his eyes were red and swollen and his body like a noodle so we called our nurse. They ran some tests on him and admitted him to NICU pretty quickly. His breathing was elevated from birth and his blood sugars were incredibly low so they thought there might have been an infection. I ended up being discharged later that day and there is no feeling like leaving the hospital without your baby in your arms. I remember packing up the swaddle he wore before they took him and I just sat in the room smelling it and crying over him not being with us. I bawled my eyes out when we visited him in the NICU from seeing him hooked up to all these wires and needles. That night when we got home Benton got me set up in bed, knelt down and handed me this little black box. He told me how proud he was of me for sticking to the birth that I desired to have despite my circumstances and how thankful he was that God allowed me to have the birth I desired even when we went in thinking it wasn’t an option. He had bought a beautiful, rose gold push ring. Yep, I bawled again. A few days later, we got a call that all Judah’s blood-work came back negative for infection and all his numbers had been stable for some time so he was being discharged! We brought our baby home.
There is nothing in the world like pregnancy and birth and I hope we never forget the miracle of it.
*There is absolutely no way I could remember birth in this much detail without our incredible doula who took notes in between helping me & my sweet husband*