January 13 started out normal enough. It was a Thursday, and was my first day back on campus at UT. I drove down early that morning and had class all day. I knew going that it was a risk – that it was always a possibility that Elizabeth could go in to labor at any time. Classes ended and there were no urgent calls. Labor had not commenced. I was a little disappointed – knowing that a Thursday birth would be great! Family could come in because of the weekend, and I would have the most amount of time possible before having to go back to school.
When I got home, Elizabeth had already been walking, drank a small dose of castor oil, and was making spicy chicken tortilla soup. She was trying everything possible to get labor started. Nothing seemed to work, so we went to bed a little early.
“Alex – I think this could be it.”
It was 3 AM, and I woke up immediately. It was like someone had thrown a bucket of cold water on me. I jumped out of bed. Elizabeth was going to take a shower and I was going to make sure everything was in the car and ready to go.
In around 30 minutes we were loaded up and driving to the hospital. By now Elizabeth was really starting to hurt. I got us to the hospital as quickly and safely as I could. Now Elizabeth was having contractions that wee so painful that she had to stop walking when they came on. We got in to the emergency room and they took us back to labor and delivery. We hadn’t sent out the text to family yet because we wanted to be sure that this was for real first.
The nurse checked Elizabeth out and told us that we were in labor (at around 5 cm dilated) and should let people know. I sent out the text: “THUNDERCATS HOOOOOOOOO!!!”
This was around 5 AM. Elizabeth began to have heavy contractions.
I got great news from the nurses desk – our doctor, Dr. Gernt was on call all weekend! Our doula, Amy, arrived and helped to coach Elizabeth and guide her into the right positions for labor. We also had a nurse shift change that resulted in an old friend of mine, Lauren, being our nurse. This was great, as she is very familiar with natural birth methods and was so extremely helpful.
Elizabeth was checked and we were told she was now at 7 cm. Wow. Things were moving quick. It wasnt even 6:30! Elizabeth was having really tough labor pains. I have never seen her hurting so much. It was so hard to see it and not be able to do anything tangible. I just kept telling her how great she was doing and reminding her of our sweet little boy that would soon be there.
7:00 AM. She is now dilated to 9. Twenty minutes later, Dr. Gernt breaks her water. We are about to start pushing!
I am starting to get excited knowing where we are. This is going by so fast!! Lauren tells Elizabeth she can go ahead and start pushing. About 10 minutes in Elizabeth says “I think I can feel him coming!” Amy calls the nurse and about 30 people descend into the room. Dr. Gernt comes in and gets ready. Now its go time. She tells Elizabeth to push as hard as she can. Elizabeth gets moved so the baby can come out more naturally. This was probably really comical to see – Lauren holding one leg, Amy the other – while I held Elizabeth’s hands and urged her on. With each push I can see Evan’s head coming forward.
After one series of pushes Dr. Gernt says, “Elizabeth do you want to feel his head?” Doing this helped Elizabeth to see how far we were and how close Evan was to being born. After that she was a woman possessed. She pushed so hard it was crazy. In just a few more pushes Evans head came out. Dr. Gernt asked Elizabeth if she wanted to help deliver the baby. Elizabeth reached down and grabbed Evan out and put him on her chest. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen in my entire life.
He was born. 8:26 AM. 6lbs. 12 ounces & 20 inches long. We cried and we laughed. It was such an amazing and happy moment.
I got handed scissors and cut the umbilical cord. This was a really strange feeling, but I am glad I did it. After that things calmed down a little. Evan latched and fed with Elizabeth – while she had him I went out and told the family he was here!
I went back and saw him get weighed, footprints get taken and all of those special things.
All in all Evans birth was very quick, and was just amazing. I cannot describe what it feels like. When I saw him for the first time I just knew my life was going to be totally different. Later, I got to give him his first bath – an experience I would never give up. It was such a cool time for the two of us.
Evan is so lucky to have so much loving family. Eric drove all the way from Orlando and stayed the weekend with us. Patrick and Chelsea drove down from Cleveland. WE had family, friends, loved ones – everyone came in to see the little guy. Evan has so many wonderful uncles – Eric, Wes, Joey, Adam – what a lucky little guy.
Looking back – I am just so proud of Elizabeth. She is amazing. She made it through Evan’s birth naturally (I knew she could do it!), and is the most perfect mother I have ever seen. The way she cares for Evan is just….it makes me so happy. Thats the only way I can describe it. It is just a joy to see her with him.
Evan is beautiful. He has a full head of cool hair that I play with every day. He has pretty blue eyes and the cutest little nose. He chirps like a bird and has the most random arm movements ever. He has to have his hands close to his face – always. Swaddling his hands does not work – he just wont have it! When he gets really hungry or upset and cries his lower lip quivers and it is the most precious/heartbreaking thing I have ever seen.
Last night was our first night at home, and while we arent getting much sleep, I had my little man on my chest for a few hours while he slept. It remains one of my favorite things I have ever done.
Thursday, January 13
My official due date of January 15 was quickly approaching. I had been having contractions on and off all week. Alex was gone to Knoxville for classes and I was working from home trying to get everything in order in case Evan decided to make his appearance. My contractions were occurring throughout the day, but were not increasing in intensity or coming at regular intervals that would indicate things were really progressing. At my last appointment on January 11 I was dilated to 3 centimeters, so I knew the contractions were causing a change, but I was not in active labor yet. I started considering jumping on the “old wives tale” train and trying some things to jumpstart labor. I texted my doula during the day and asked if she thought I should give castor oil a try. She said that it was worth a shot and that it would really only work if my body was ready to go into labor anyway. Around 3:30 I took a half dose of castor oil (1 oz) with some orange juice. I was very nervous about being able to get it down, but it wasn’t as terrible as I imagined. The worst part about it was the slimy, oily texture. I anxiously waited for something to happen. Alex got home from Knoxville around 5:00 and I was still waiting. I was not experiencing any of the dreaded side effects of taking castor oil. At around 6:00 I decided to take the other half of the dose. The evening continued on with no effects. I continued having irregular contractions, but those had been happening for weeks. They did feel a little different, however, and I remember telling Alex that something felt different, but that I wasn’t getting my hopes up. I couldn’t sleep so I walked on the treadmill for a little while and finally laid down a little before midnight.
Friday, January 14
2:30 am – I woke up to go to the bathroom and had a pretty decent contraction. I went and laid back down and had a few more. I decided to get up and try timing a few of them. I was walking around the house and the contractions were coming about 3 minutes apart. They were still quite manageable and I could pretty easily walk and talk through them.
3am – The contractions were continuing to get more intense and were consistently 2.5 minutes apart. I woke up Alex and told him that I thought this might be it. I decided to take a shower and see if that helped and if not, to call the hospital. Throughout the shower I continued having contractions. When I got out I started timing again and the contractions were coming closer to 2 minutes apart. I called the hospital and they wanted me to come in and get checked out. My original plan was to labor at home for as long as possible, but at 36 weeks we found out that I had Group B Strep. This meant that I needed to get a dose of IV antibiotics before delivery and so that meant getting to the hospital a little earlier. While I was in the shower, Alex had been getting the last of our things together and into the car.
4am – We headed out for the hospital. Riding in a car with contractions is not comfortable – at all. We arrived at the hospital and I had to stop in the parking lot to make it through a contraction because I couldn’t walk through them anymore. Since it was the middle of the night we had to go in through the emergency room. After a quick check in I headed back to labor and delivery. We got into the room about 4:30 and I got changed. Alex made a comment about needing to call our doula if we were going to be staying. The nurse commented that they would be hooking me up to the monitors and they wouldn’t know if we would be staying for at least an hour, “unless I was dilated to at least 5 or 6 centimeters.” She checked and sure enough, I was dilated between 5 and 6. After a minute or two of very consistent, strong contractions on the monitor she told us that we wouldn’t be going anywhere and that this was it. Although I was pretty confident based on the crazy quick ramp up of pain and intensity, it was so wild to hear those words coming from someone “official.” We were really going to have this baby today!! The contractions kept intensifying and it shocked me how quickly things were happening.
5am – After the official word that we were staying and that I was already at 6 centimeters, Alex made a call to Amy, our doula. She said that she would be over soon. He also sent out the anxiously anticipated text message “Thundercats Hoooo!” to family and friends to let them know that it was time.
6-8am – During this time the contractions really amped up. The nurse checked again and said that I was at about 7 centimeters. The pain was catching me off guard. I planned to walk and use my birth ball and so many other things, but everything was happening so fast! I quickly began questioning my sanity and my decision to avoid an epidural. For a while at every contraction I would look at Alex and very calmly and sweetly (haha) scream that I needed something NOW. I had asked him throughout the pregnancy to try to coach me through the contractions instead and that’s exactly what he did. He and the nurse reminded me to focus on him and look into his eyes. This really did help a lot. I tried to remind myself that each contraction was very temporary and would end soon and just try to take them one by one. It was still insanely difficult. I will admit that I thought I was being cut in two at some points. My legs were shaking and I couldn’t stop them. I remember telling a nurse and she said that it probably wouldn’t stop until I delivered him. After the fact, I remember reading over and over that this is a sign of transition. During this time my blood pressure shot up and I began vomiting – the nurses got concerned and contacted the doctor on call. He essentially said that if it didn’t come down that an epidural was most likely in my future. I wanted to avoid that so I consented to some IV medication to try and bring it down. This time period is a bit of a blur. Amy arrived and quickly jumped in. I repositioned and she used massage to help the contractions in my lower back. This really helped. There was a shift change around 7am. My doctor was the new doctor on call and I was so thankful! She had seen me throughout my pregnancy, discussed our birth plan and preferences, and really knew us. It was such a reassurance to have her there. We also had the most amazing nurse ever! She was such a help and had so much knowledge. Having this amazing team – Alex, my doctor, doula, and nurse – made an incredible difference. The doctor checked things out when she came in and said that I was at 9 centimeters. At this point my water still had not broken. She asked if I wanted her to break my water or if I just wanted to wait. I agreed to have her go ahead and do it. After this, I almost immediately felt the need to push. The nurse told me to go ahead and push as I felt the need to. I really have no concept of time at this point, but I knew it could not have been long. I was so nervous about pushing. I remember saying something about how badly it was going to hurt. Amy and the nurse both told me that pushing would actually feel better. I remember thinking they had to be crazy, but amazingly enough I found out exactly what they meant. Being able to push was really more of a release and a relief. Don’t get me wrong – it still hurt, but the pain was different – and I knew we were getting so close to the end!!
8am – It was about this time that I remember saying that I felt like he was almost coming out. The nurse had stepped out for a moment and Amy ran out in the hall to let them know. At this point about 10 people just descended into the room. Lights were coming from the ceiling, equipment was rolling in, nurses were everywhere. I pushed another time or two and they called for our doctor. She came in and told me that she could see him and that we were getting close. I remember asking repeatedly how much longer I was going to have to push – of course no one could answer this! Alex and the rest of the birth team were so encouraging. With every push they told me how great I was doing and offered suggestions to make each push even more productive. The doctor asked me if I wanted to feel his head so I did. Knowing that we were so close gave me the burst of determination to give those final few pushes. Right before one push the doctor told me that his head was coming out, after that she said she would work his shoulders out on the next one. She asked if I wanted to reach down and help pull him up to my chest. Without another thought I did exactly that.
8:26am – I can not even begin to explain the feeling that I had in that moment. It was completely overwhelming. I pulled him up to my chest and he let out his first cry. He stayed on my chest as the staff did all of the initial checks. They wiped him off and I got to just sit and hold him. I remember just looking at Alex and looking at Evan and being amazed at how complete I felt. I was able to nurse him for a while before they took him to weigh him and measure him. Alex went out and told our family and friends that were waiting that Evan had arrived. When he got back the nurse from the nursery came back in and got his measurements. 6 lbs, 12.5 oz and 20 inches long. He was absolutely perfect.
During the next hour or so the nurses moved me into my post partum room and Evan got some blood tests because the antibiotics were not in my system for the full 4 hours. We asked if Alex could help with his first bath. We have some great pictures and I know this was a very special time for him! After the bath they said that he either had to stay under the warming lamps for an hour or come back to our room for an hour of skin-to-skin contact. Take a guess what I chose – not a chance of missing that chance to hold and cuddle with him.
Our time in the hospital flew by and we headed home on Sunday. Driving away from the hospital with Evan in the car with us was very surreal. We were actually taking him home!!
The time since his birth has flown by. I have experienced just about every emotion known to man, but the one that continually overwhelms me is the insane joy I feel about this little man. Alex and I talk everyday about how overcome we are with love for him. I have no doubt that our lives will never be the same and will be forever brighter and better because of him.