April 06, 2016

joseph andrew's birth story

meet joseph andrew. my third baby came earthside march 2, 2016 at 2:20pm weighing 8 pounds 5 ounces and 21.5 inches long. born at 42 weeks gestation, he certainly took his time coming into this world, and we were beyond anxious to meet him.

the friday before joseph was born, i awoke to contractions at 6:30am. they were intense, but not too painful, and lasted about thirty seconds. as time passed, they got increasingly more painful, but were still only thirty seconds long and were coming every half hour to an hour. i decided to get up and get ready for work to try and distract me. we were planning on having breakfast with two of our heritage guitar reps (i work with my husband and in-laws at lightning joe's guitar heaven) and i didn't want to miss out on the meeting. i arrived at breakfast in pain, but i got through it and went to work afterward anyway.

about an hour before i was supposed to be off, the contractions became even more painful (ha, painful! if i'd only known what was coming my way just a couple days later, i would've laughed at these contractions) and called my midwife to see if i could come in an hour early to get a cervical check. i left the shop and headed to her office thinking, 'this could be it!' but came to find that i was 30% effaced and only a fingertip dilated. she told me that things are progressing, but slowly, and that's normal. deflated, i decided to go home and rest. when i got home, i took a hot shower, got in my jammies, and laid down for a nap. i probably slept for about four hours and when i woke up, the contractions were gone. later on that night, though, they came back and had them every half hour all the way through the night. and that is how saturday and sunday went for me; early morning contractions that tapered off until nighttime when i would have them every half hour through out the night.

monday i was scheduled to have a biophysical profile scan done and my midwife was coming over to do another cervical check. since i was attempting a vba2c and was a day and a half from 42 weeks, my midwife suggested i get it done to make sure everything looked fine and measured normally. all through out the day i would have a contraction every hour or so that were big and lasting about forty five seconds. i even had two during the scan! then my midwife came over, told us that i passed the scan, and did a cervical check. i was about 60-70% effaced and 1-2cm dilated, so she did a membrane sweep. my goodness did that hurt ever hurt! within twenty minutes i was already having contractions-before she even left! like, the real deal contractions. the kind where my midwife said to call her if they get closer together-the 4-1-1 rule. i was now officially out of prodromal labor and in early labor so out came the contraction tracker app that we downloaded two months prior. that way we would know exactly when to call her.

i laid on the couch for the rest of the evening while my father-in-law came over to help my husband move the bed so we could make room for the birthing tub and to bring over some freezer meals for us. in between contractions i got my son oliver ready for bed, kissed my daughter bry goodnight, and tried to rest. during this time i remember feeling so calm and at peace. i think i felt that way because i was finally able to experience labor naturally and i was in the comfort of my own home surrounded by the people that meant the most to me. that, and i was finally on my way to getting this freaking baby out of me! the contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart and lasting around forty five seconds to a minute, but around 10:30pm (already laboring for almost four hours) they became longer, stronger, and closer together. around midnight my husband called my midwife, gave her 4-1-1 (contractions that are four minutes apart, lasting at least a minute, for at least an hour straight) and she told him that now would be a good time to set up the birthing tub. so my husband went to work on setting that up, which made me feel so good that we were at that point and that i would be able to birth in the tub, the way i always wanted it for my other two babies, but never got the chance to.

(the only photo i have of my home labor, since we didn't hire any photographers, and no one had time to take any photos since my contractions weren't giving me or my husband much rest.)

my midwife came around 12:30 and did a cervical check and i was at 3cm dilated and 80% effaced and in active labor. the contractions were closer and closer together and lasting sometimes up to three minutes. all day tuesday i labored all over the house! on the living room floor, on the couch (where we tried to watch ace ventura; when nature calls), on the dining room chair, on the floor in our room, in the bed, on the toilet (which was where i did most of my laboring), in the bathtub, in the shower, in the bathroom... pretty much everywhere but the kids' bedrooms. a few times my labor slowed down so we talked about a castor oil recipe to try and even pumping for nipple stimulation, but each time we talked about that, my contractions would pick up. my midwife even had another midwife come over to try some new positions and get a fresh new eye at the situation. we did belly lifts and lunges and squats of all kinds to try and get things to move along, but i ended up laboring all through another night and into a new day with tons of help and comfort from our birth assistant, friend, and unofficial doula, jennifer, and tons of comfort and love from my husband.

through that night, though, things got pretty intense and i ended up not really sleeping at all. the contractions were not giving me a break and were too close together for me to be at all comfortable. i think another thing that was stressful for me was all the contraction tracking. every time i had a contraction either my husband or i would have to hit 'start' then hit 'stop' and to do that all through the night when you had been laboring for more than a day already became an annoyance.

wednesday morning at 8am while jennifer and i were sharing a plate of eggs in bed my husband had just cooked up for us, my midwife came. i will never forget that moment. here i am, calm, happy, eating eggs in bed and megan walks in and says 'okay, now for your favorite two words. starts with a c and an e.' i rolled my eyes, threw my head back, and jennifer looked at me in a confused way. cervial exam. for me, those things were worse than my contractions! it's not that megan was rough or horrible at them; i just really, really hated them. but, she checked me and i was at 6cm dilated and 90% effaced! and then, all the sudden, during a really insane contraction, i felt this huge rush of fluid and my midwife said 'oh! ashley! your water just broke!'. i let out a big sigh of relief and she said, 'you've never been a six before. ashley, you've never been this far along! you never got to have your water break naturally!' after a stupid induction with my daughter bry, my first baby, i ended up at 100% effaced, but only 4cm dilated for 'way too long' and ended up having to have a cesarean for failure to progress, so as soon as she said that, i burst into tears. it was amazing to hear that my body was doing what it needed to do all on its own to bring this baby earthside and that i was at a point i had never been at before with my first two babies.

within an hour i reached the transition stage of labor, and was at 8cm, 90% effaced, and soon after, the pushing contractions started. it was the most insane feeling ever! the contractions i had been experiencing, though painful, were easy enough to breath and moan through. i felt like i could control my pain level even though i couldn't control the contraction. but with these, i couldn't control anything. it was insane to have my body bear down without my willing it to and it sort of scared me. i was feeling really empowered, though, at this point, and feeling like i was so close to delivering my sweet boy. megan told my husband to start filling up the tub and as soon as it was ready, i got in. i have to say; for me, the birthing tub was not what i had hoped it would be. it felt nice being in there, but i envisioned it being much more helpful with the contractions (maybe because i was already in the transition phase of labor?) and more relaxing. now, i wasn't expecting a spa-like experience by any means, but i was hoping for more relief. however; i stayed in for a good hour and tried some different positions that the tub made easier to get in, but i really just couldn't jive with it, so i got out and labored some more in bed and on the toilet. within the two hours of pushing, my contractions slowed down, so i got another of my favorite words-cervical exam. this is where my heart sank and things started to get more scary for me. i was told that my cervix had swollen down to 6cm with all of the pushing and that baby had changed positions into not such an ideal one, had gone from a +2 station to a -1 station, and that i needed to stop pushing. i was heart broken. i thought, 'how can one just stop pushing when ones body is doing it for them?' i blew raspberries after raspberry to try and stop them, but they just kept coming, stronger and stronger. i tried lunges and squats, got back in the tub, sat in the bath, walked, labored on my side, and got back into the tub again. i was checked again after half an hour and still no progression. at that point, after laboring for 41+ hours (not to mention the three days i was in off and on prodromal labor) and not being able to stop these pushing contractions, coupled with the fact that baby was now pushing on my pubic bone with each contraction and my cervix swelling and swelling, i was also at a point where i was letting out a long and high pitched, bloodcurdling scream with each contraction that i could not control-i was done. done. done. as i kneel in the tub with my husband stroking my hair and the surge of each contraction i was so wishing away, i looked up at megan and jennifer, presumably with the biggest puppy dog eyes i could muster up, and muttered, 'i'm done. i can't go any longer. i can't do this anymore. i'm tired, so tired. we need to go to the hospital. i need to get this baby out of me. i'm so sorry you guys. (looking at my husband with tears streaming down my face) i'm so sorry honey. i'm sorry. i just can't go on. i'm so tired.' jennifer and megan left the room to discuss and suggested my husband and i talk about it to make sure thats what we wanted to do. we talked, i cried and apologized, and said that i needed to go and he agreed and reassured me that it was okay, he understood. he kissed me and held me and helped me through the continuing contractions. all the while i was asking when we could go and jennifer came in to let me know that megan was calling the hospital and letting them know we were coming. we got me out of the tub, got me into a bra and dress, gathered up my nonchalantly packed hospital bag, because, you know, i wasn't going to end up at the hospital, and got me into the van. my mom had been there all morning hanging out in the living room waiting to help and be there when i transitioned into the second stage of labor and delivery, so she followed us, along with megan, and jennifer stayed behind to clean things up.

let me tell you. that ride to the hospital was the worst experience of my entire life. the worst! why doctors and hospitals tell expecting moms to wait to go to the hospital until they have contractions that are close together and lasting a long while is beyond me. they should all be shot! i had never been so uncomfortable, miserable, upset in my whole life being strapped into a seat while having insane and scary contractions and being able to feel every pebble in the damn road for twenty minutes. we reached the hospital and i had initially had my husband ask for a wheelchair, but everyone was taking too long (i guess a very pregnant lady having huge, surging contractions and screaming bloody murder out front of a hospital is not motive enough to get her a freaking wheelchair) and megan walked up and asked me if i could walk, it would take less time than waiting for someone to get me a wheelchair, so i said yes and we walked through the lobby with me screaming loudly and moaning like a madwoman. that continued in the elevator up to the labor/delivery floor, probably scaring the crap out of the lady that took that brave ride with us, and through the hall to the room. luckily, they had been waiting for me and got me in right away. just before i got into the bed, as i was taking my sandals off, i had another big contraction and fluid came out with some meconium in it, which worried everyone. i got into the bed and then everything happened so fast. at this point my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart (from the start of one to the start of another) and the screaming, my goodness the screaming! it all happened so fast: im in the bed, they're poking vein after vein to try and get an IV in, i'm being hooked up to the monitor, there's beeping, people are talking, my midwife is asking questions, my mom is at the foot of my bed crying, my husband i don't even know, they put an oxygen mask on me, ask me about creams and vaccines and all sorts of stuff i told them no to, and then there he was... dr. kromhout. my saving grace. i was so relieved to learn he was the on-call dr for the day. he delivered oliver and i had never felt so at ease with a dr as i did with him. he came over, kneeled down, took my hand, looked me in the eyes and greeted me. he asked me how i felt, what i wanted to do, gave me his concerns and what they could do for me (epidural, wait 1-2 hours, see if i progress or get me in for a cesarean) and awaited my response. i looked up at him and breathed, 'just take me in for a cesarean'. and off i went.

they wheeled me into the delivery room, i got my spinal by a very kind and concerned (for me) anesthesiologist. chit chatted with dr kromhout, because that's how he is-super chill-and asked for a clear curtain (they didn't have those so i got a curtain with a window), they set me up and in came my husband and midwife. i was so thankful that dr kromhout allowed megan in the room. she not only was able to take photos for us, but she continued her midwifery care by giving me support i didn't get to have with my previous cesareans and that put me at even more ease. after a couple jokes of asking if i wanted a fancy designer cesarean section with florals and curly q's and me asking back if i could please get a tummy tuck with service this time (sometimes, in situations that are beyond your control and ones you need to succumb to, you need to have good spirits and laughs), my baby came out in a huge surge, loud and in charge and beautiful as ever. my husband got to hold him right away and he was then placed on my chest for some skin to skin, then my husband took him again and once i was all closed up (generic incision and no tummy tuck, darn it!) we got to go to our room for recovery. my husband did skin to skin right away, then i got to nurse baby. he nursed almost the whole time we were in recovery! i was so thankful for no nursing complications since that can happen sometimes when you have a cesarean or even just a vaginal hospital birth. they weighed him and measured him and did his cute little footprints and then we got to go to the room we were to stay in the next three days.

after that, it was all bliss (and even more blissful once we got home).

i remember jennifer asking us at one of our birthing classes what our fears were with labor and delivery. one of my responses was that i would end up having a cesarean again. i remember feeling like things possibly wouldn't progress and that someone would tell me that i would have to have another cesarean section again and that scared me. but even though i ended up with that end result, even after all of that labor and not being able to bring my baby earthside vaginally, i had never been so at peace with the outcome. why, though, when that was my fear and something that sat in the back of my mind the better half of my pregnancy? because it wasn't just someone who made that decision for me-i chose the outcome. i was my own voice and i didn't get to have that with my first two. i had never felt so powerful in my life as i do right now, as i did during all of that labor. and i also never felt so powerful in speaking up for myself and knowing what my body needs and my mind, and even what my baby needed. we both had to tap out. we both had to realize that we couldn't go any further. and being your own voice is as powerful as they come.

if anyone would like to share their story, leave a link in the comments, or send me an email. i'd love to hear about your journey and build a connection with you mamas out there.


  1. Such a beautiful journey, even if it wasn't what you prepared for. Giving in & letting this little man come into the world in whatever way he had to shows incredible strength. Good work, mama! Thank you so much for sharing.


    1. Thank you, Emily! Cannot wait to hear how Mia joined you earthside. Birth is such a beautiful thing, no matter how baby is delivered. Thanks again for your encouraging words!