The Story of Jude Coming Earthside
December 31, 2016 — 5:47am
Quick preface: For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wren’s birth story, she joined us at 38 weeks and 5 days after a quick 6 hour labor. Without going into too much detail (you can read the whole story here and here), I will tell you that the delivery was a bit complicated and left me recovering physically and emotionally for quite a while. I experienced a partial uterine inversion (my uterus started to come out of my cervix after the baby) and hemorrhaged, losing about 1 liter of blood. We suspect that this happened because the OB who delivered Wren yanked on the umbilical cord to try to speed up the process of birthing the placenta. When we found out we were pregnant again, I immediately worried about how the next delivery would go and spent a lot of time over the following months trying to find peace and allowing myself to trust our new medical team.
So, now to Jude’s story!
Since we wanted an intervention-free labor & delivery (as much as possible while keeping Jude and I safe, of course), we chose to see midwives for this pregnancy. We were guaranteed that an MD from our practice would also be available at the delivery incase of any obstetric emergency. From the beginning, the midwives really impressed. They came into every appointment knowing exactly who we were, what our history was, and what we wanted from this pregnancy, labor, & delivery. They were knowledgeable, patient, and made us totally comfortable. Given our previous delivery experience, they wanted us to be prepared for the possibility that Jude would come early, and probably rather quickly, and advised us to not go too far from Athens once we got close to go-time.
I was nervous and stressed about how this delivery would go. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around letting my body go through that kind of trauma again. I’ve always loved reading birth stories and I spent Wren’s entire pregnancy reading them every night before bed, but I’d abandoned that ritual after she was born. Somewhere in my 35th-ish week with Jude, I remembered how helpful those stories were to me in visualizing what I wanted for my own labor and delivery, so I started reading them again. I read them in every spare minute I had. I read every kind of birth story… all natural, with pain relief, c-sections, VBAC’s, everything. Eventually, I started to find some comfort in these women’s stories. I remember telling a few people that I finally felt emotionally ready to have Jude around 37 weeks.
My 37th week, I felt great. I had more energy than I’d had in months and was a nesting machine. I’d even mentioned that it was “concerning” that I felt so good, because something must be about to happen. Well, on December 30th at 37 weeks and 6 days, something happened: Aaron and I got the stomach virus our little Wren had come down with the night before. For me, it started pretty abruptly. I felt totally fine all day and only started feeling a tiny bit nauseas around 7:00pm, but by 7:30… it had wrecked me. I’ll spare you the details, but it was definitely the worst stomach virus I’ve ever had and it did not let up for 5-6 hours. I couldn’t keep any water down and was having braxton hicks/contractions in addition to the awful stomach ache and cramps. I figured the contractions were from dehydration and hoped that if I could just keep a little bit of water in my system, they’d go away.
Around midnight, I started to get worried because I was still sick, unable to drink any water, and the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. I called the after-hours number at our doctors office and my favorite midwife was on call. I thought I may need to go to the hospital for IV fluids if I couldn’t get some water into my system, but she didn’t want me to have to go in unless it was totally necessary, so she called in some meds to the 24-hour pharmacy. Poor Aaron (husband of the year) was totally still sick but went out and picked up the zofran & phenergan. Around this time, I also asked my mom to come stay with us, just incase we ended up having to go get IV fluids. I figured that if everything calmed down, at least she could hang out with Wren in the morning so we could rest. I took the zofran around 1am and didn’t throw up again after that. My mom arrived around 1:45am, and then I got in the bath to see if that would help slow down the contractions. They weren’t really hurting, but they did feel more uncomfortable than my usual braxton hicks. Still, I assumed it was from dehydration and exhaustion, and at 2am I took a phenergan and laid down to try to sleep. By the way, if you’ve never taken that before… It will knock you on your ass. I should have known better.
Just as I was drifting into sleep, in that still semi-conscious but semi-dreaming state, I felt a small gush. It was 2:30am. I got up to go to the bathroom to check, and felt liquid stream down my legs. I thought “shit, of course, my water just broke” but when I got to the bathroom, I realized it was blood. Quite a bit of it. I sat down on the toilet and felt something drop out of me and plop into the water with more blood. I couldn’t see what it was but I figured it was my mucus plug (still not sure about this). A little spotting at the start of labor is normal, but this much blood was concerning. So I came out into the bedroom and woke Aaron up, telling him that we needed to get to the hospital STAT. I was too groggy and panicked to think clearly and was ready to grab our bags and run out the door half naked, but thankfully Aaron grabbed some clothes and helped me get dressed. I think he also said something along the lines of, “Figures, we knew this would start at 2:30 in the morning.” We’d been begging Jude to try to come at a more convenient time of day, haha.
I cannot say enough how grateful I was in this moment (and still am) that my mom had been willing to drive to Athens in the middle of the night to stay with us. If we’d had to wake and pack up Wren during all of this drama, it would have really been so much more stressful and complicated. We were out the door and on our way to the hospital within maybe 7 minutes, and our little birdy was still snoozing peacefully at home with her Abi.
We got to the hospital a little before 3am and went to the emergency room entrance. On the car ride, I’d felt Jude moving and kicking, so I was slightly less worried, but still feeling urgently that we needed to get to the L&D unit and check on our little man. The check-in nurse was asking me a bunch of questions about my birthday? insurance? I’m honestly not even sure. I was so frustrated that they were asking me these stupid questions when I was clearly needing to get up to the doc! I obviously realize that they needed to get me checked into the system, but in that moment it seemed utterly ridiculous. I think I ended up saying “Um, I’m gushing blood, can this not wait until we check on my baby?” So, they let another nurse wheel me up to L&D while Aaron stayed behind to finish answering the questions. They got me into a room and undressed quickly and my midwife was already there and waiting. I’d started having painful contractions in the car and they were coming every 3-4 minutes. The nurses got me on the monitors and we were able to hear Jude’s heart beating perfectly, so I was finally able to relax a little bit. The midwife checked me and I was 7cm dilated and 100% effaced, and she said that the bleeding was likely from such quick cervical change (I’d been 3cm and 50% effaced for the previous 2 weeks). They also wanted to keep me on the monitors to make sure I didn’t have any signs of a placental abruption, as that can also cause such bleeding.
At this point, Aaron had made it up to L&D and they moved us into a nicer room and got me all situated. I asked for IV fluids and juice in hopes that it would help me feel a little bit better and somehow muster the energy to make it through labor. My hospital bracelet said 3:30am was my check-in time. Aaron was such a champ, supporting me 100% through every contraction, while still having to run to the bathroom to puke every so often. He rubbed my back and applied counter pressure, reminding me to relax my body and not fight against the contractions (I’d specifically asked him to remind me of this). The next 1.5 hours were honestly what I’d always hoped labor would be like. I labored in the bathtub for a little while, which was amazing, and then on the yoga ball and in a variety of other positions. The nurses and midwife were barely around and just let us do our thing. As awful of a start as we’d had, and as exhausted and depleted as we both felt, to me, it was such a special time. We’d work through the contractions together and then kind of just hang out and chat or joke in between. He knew exactly what I needed & I think I somehow grew to love him even more.
Then, shit got real.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2!