Monday, April 29, 2013

the birth of a soul, part I

Before I gave birth to Henry, I had no intention what so ever of sharing his birth story.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed reading the honest accounts other mother's had shared of their birth experiences on their own blogs, I believed that my birth story would stay private.

That was until my birth story became the single most empowering event of my life...something I am most proud of. I wanted to share my story here on the off chance that a first time mama-to-be should stumble across my portion of the internet.. A mama-to-be that has maybe only heard scary, vague, or discouraging accounts of other births from their friends and acquaintances. 

I want to offer up a chance for someone to read about a birth that was not a scary one. If I can even slightly encourage someone with my story... that birth doesn't have to be scary and horrible.. I think its worth it to share. Its a long one, so bear with me...

The week leading up to Henry's arrival was a pretty miserable one. The heartburn that had me popping Tums like candy had flared up with vengeance. Anything I put in my mouth gave me heartburn. And by anything, I'm including milk.. I mean, c'mon.. who even gets heartburn from milk?

The heartburn, coupled with my first major bout with swollen ankles in the pregnancy, had me laying in bed for the majority of my days trying to get some rest. My mind was working overtime thinking of all of the things around the house that needed to be done and all of the possible scenarios that awaited me in labor and delivery any day/minute.

On Thursday, my good friend Samantha planned on coming over to visit. That morning, to my surprise, I did not feel like laying in bed. I wanted to get up and get moving. I looked up a bunch of freezer meal recipes to stock our fridge with, compiled a rather long grocery list, and started cleaning. And then I had lunch out of the house at a restaurant with Chris for the first time in weeks. We followed lunch with a good hour long grocery shopping session and returned home. Already, that day had me on my feet for a length of time that surpassed any other day in the prior weeks. Chris was asking me if I felt okay and if my ankles were swelling up yet, to which I scoffed because I was full of bursting energy and there was no slowing me down.

Samantha arrived that afternoon and we spent hours standing at the counter in my kitchen slicing and dicing veggies and various meats for the assembly of my freezer meals. Chris watched me from the other room and kept saying things like "You'd better take it easy.." or "Are you sure you don't want to sit down for a while, your ankles are going to be swelling.."  I didn't want to listen. I was still feeling awesome for the first time in weeks.

That night, when we went up to bed I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. My feet felt like I'd been walking around on my bare bones all day. Chris dozed off around 10pm and I stayed awake, trying not to over-think the non-painful Braxton-Hicks contractions I was having regularly. I noticed that these BH contractions were slightly stronger than the ones that I'd experienced throughout my pregnancy. I attempted to time them on my iPhone app, but they were all over the place.. 8 min apart... 22 minutes apart.. 11 minutes...14 minutes.

I knew that this was what the midwifes and doctors had been describing to me as "false labor" so I tried to get some rest. The contractions grew slightly more painful but they were still concentrated in my baby bump region, and not in my back like they said they would be. The increase in pain kept me awake and I nudged Chris to tell him that we may be going to the hospital in the morning. He exclaimed "Really?" in a combination nervous/excited/worried tone.

Morning came, with me still laying there wide awake. Chris went outside to do cattle chores and told me to call him if we needed to get going. The contractions stopped completely. They did not come back again all day. I tried to get some sleep.

That night (Friday) I had a sneaking suspicion that the BH contractions would be back and I was not looking forward to it.  Around 11:30 what I thought were just more BH's were back. I half-heartedly timed them.... 15 min... 8 min.......8 min......8 min....... 5 min...... 5 min....... 5 min....... 5 min......

The contractions were getting closer together and were more consistent. Their intensity was increasing and I was feeling a bit more pain but it wasn't unbearable. Around 2am, when I'd been timing them at 5min apart for at least an hour, I called the OB department at the hospital to see what the next step was.
They fed me some garbage about how I was a first-timer and how it was probably just false labor... I should just stay at home and try walking through the contractions (which I already could NOT do) and maybe take a warm shower or bath. I could come in to the hospital to be checked for dilation but they would probably just send me back home because I only measured at 1cm dialed a few days before..

I listened, even though I was getting nervous and scared. I got in the shower and stood there until I'd used up all of the hot water. I kept inhaling slowly to a count of 3 and exhaling even slower to a count of 3. That breathing method, and that alone, helped me get through each contraction.
Chris sat in the bathroom timing my contractions for me.
3 min.....3 min... 3 min....... I waited an hour and then I called back.
The woman on the phone in OB told me the same thing she'd said before...
"If your water hasn't broken, there's no reason to come in yet.."

Chris sided with the nurse and told me that if it was truly labor, I should try to do as much of it at home as possible, like all my books and classes had suggested. This was easy for him to say and I was kind of sort of pouting about it, but later I thanked him.

 I tried to get through each contraction as best I could. I'm not going to say that they weren't painful, because that would be a bold-faced lie.. but the pain wasn't something I couldn't get through with proper concentration and breathing. I think the key was managing my fear. In our birth class, we had heard that fear contributes to more pain due to the body tensing up and fighting each contraction. I just kept telling myself that this was something natural that woman have been enduring for hundreds and hundreds of years. I would get through this and everything would be alright.

I was able to doze off in between a few contractions around 5am. When I was awakened around 6am by a contraction, something had changed. The pain was definitely more intense than it had been all night. I still wasn't sure if this was real labor yet though, because the pain I was feeling didn't match up at all with the absolute horrible pain that many of my friends had described. I figured that if I could get through the pain at home with out meds, it must not be real labor. How naive of me.

The next contraction hit and it was more painful than any I'd had before.
Immediately after I felt a wave of strong nausea. Thank heaven our bathroom was only a few steps away. When I got sick, I knew we had to get to the hospital. I'd heard that this was a definite sign of labor. Still I was unsure if this was the real deal. I assumed they'd check me and send me home, but we grabbed our overnight bags anyways and calmly made our way to the car. This was 7:30am

Little did I know, in less than 3 hours, I'd be looking into the eyes of the most perfect human being I'd ever met.

To be continued.......


  1. Already love....Janell just want to thank you in advance for sharing. I'm just now starting to get nervous about labor (we're at 18 weeks) Its so encouraging to hear your story!!

  2. I loved reading this Janelle! I'm so glad you are sharing your story.

  3. Ahhhhhh can't wait to hear more! I'm due any day now and have been dying to read you and henrys little story before I actually go through it myself :) hope you guys are all doing well and enjoying parenthood!!!

  4. Ahhh I'm so glad youre sharing this! I've been dying to hear you and little henrys story before I go through it myself (any day now hopefully!)! I'm sooo intrigued :) hope your new little family is doing well and you and papa are enjoying parenthood!

  5. Oops I think I posted twice! And now three
    Times! Sorry gal! Xoxo


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