A month ago I would have given anything to know this story as I was crippled with nightly anxiety over this birth. Every pregnancy has resulted with me struggling with this problem in the last couple weeks, but for some reason this time was the worst I’ve experienced to date. Maybe after having a really hard homebirth that resulted in a NICU stay, another difficult homebirth that I can still feel to this day, and a wonderful medicated hospital birth that seemed too good to happen again all made me just so unsure what this birth would end up looking like. But let’s rewind to the start of this pregnancy shall we?
Towards the end of last year, Daniel and I had gotten to a point where we were both starting to have baby fever. We would calculate how old Prim would be if we got pregnant that cycle and thanks to the Marquette Method, we felt like we had so much control and understanding in that area of life. We got kind of lax on charting and switched from that very much trying to avoid pregnancy to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
While we were in Lake Arrowhead for New Years, I started to notice that I was having some pregnancy signs, but like us ladies know, many of them are the same signs as about to start your period. That Airbnb had 3 flights of stairs and I really started to question if I was pregnant when towards the end of the trip, I was having to hold my chest going up and down them because they felt so tender and sore which isn’t a typical pre-period sign for me. Is this all TMI? I know I want to hear this all when I read birth stories so again, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Back at home I anxiously waited until the first possible chance I could get a positive test but got negative. I decided to just wait until the test would be 100% accurate but my friend Amina surprised me with those Clearblue early detection digital tests. I took it and it said, “NOT PREGNANT” but found out that if you opened them and read the stick because we were a little early even for that kind of test, you could tell. So I busted it open and lo and behold, 2 lines!! We were so excited. Later that night I wanted to look into that trick a little more and found out that actually all those tests show 2 lines, pregnant or not. I felt devastated. It felt like I had lost this baby that I didn’t even know if really existed inside me. The next morning was First Friday of the month and I got up early and went to Mass alone because I needed some grounding. At Mass I prayed and asked God to please just give me a clear answer that day whether I was pregnant or not because the “am I? am I not?” was emotionally taxing. Right after Mass I went over to Vons and picked up a 2 pack of First Response tests. I went home and bolted straight to the bathroom, tore the box open, and did my thang. The positive line appeared immediately and my heart felt so at ease. My baby. Really in there. So much love for this tiny human.
Shortly after the Mexico trip we found out we were having boy #3!! We were so excited, even little Primmy who was a little in denial at first.
Unfortunately, I was sick with what I thought was seasonal allergies but ended up being 2 months of “worse than bronchitis” which ate up my second trimester. Luckily I got well just in time for our Paris babymoon trip!
I slipped into the third trimester and that’s when my nightly anxiety started to kick in. I can’t even pinpoint what I was anxious about specifically, just overall “I DON’T WANT TO GIVE BIRTH.”. My exhaustion came back towards the end where I was held up in bed for most of the day. As the end started approaching, I decided that I wanted to go with getting my membranes swept during my 39th week to hopefully have more control over setting up to get the kids watched and getting to the hospital in time to get the epidural. All my other kids have been born past their due dates so this seemed like a good plan to try to ease my anxiety up, but alas, I was still anxious almost every night. We scheduled for me to go in on Sept 13th for the sweep and I woke up feeling SO sick to my stomach with nerves. I went in and got checked and my OB said I was so closed up he couldn’t do a sweep. We made an appt for the morning of the 15th to try again and I went home feeling really relieved that it wasn’t happening that day.
Friday came and I went in feeling really great and peaceful surprisingly and guess what? STILL CLOSED! He said I was a “tight 1cm” and he felt hopeful that if I came in later in the evening he would be able to get in to do a sweep. So 4:30 rolls around, I go in anddddddd he got in. He said that I will for sure feel something, probably cramping, and it might not turn into labor and if so, to come back in the morning. Immediately I felt so nauseous and needed to go lay down as soon as we got back home because it definitely did something. Daniel rented Captain Underpants for the kids (insert my smug, eye roll face) and I laid in bed with round ligament pain and strong braxton hicks, but could tell that they weren’t actual contractions. I decided that maybe I was being dramatic and went out to sit on the couch with them to watch a little bit and then the first real one came. I said to Daniel, “WHAT TIME IS IT!?” and he said, “around 6:30.” and I replied, “No no, I need the actual time.” and he said, “6:28! Is it to time contractions!?”
Labor + Birth
I quickly retreated back into the bedroom. They started coming every 10 minutes, then quickly jumped to every 6 minutes. I called my doctor at 7:15 to let him know they were consistently coming and that I’d be heading in to the hospital soon. He said, “Jenna, if you go into the hospital with contractions every 6-10 minutes apart and still only 1cm, they’re going to send you home so make sure you make it visible that you’re in labor. Don’t go in there smiling.”. You got it, dude.
Daniel’s mom and sister got here around 8pm to pick up the kids and we left for the hospital. I was starting to get really anxious because the contractions were picking up and when we got into L&D, it was so busy. They took my paperwork and had me get on the scale and immediately a bigger contraction came so I had no problem looking in labor. I was so nervous I was going to have to be monitored to see if I was really in labor but I heard another nurse whisper to my nurse, “She has Dr. ___, you might as well admit her now because if we call him, he’ll make us anyway.” <3 <3 <3
They got me hooked up in the random room around 8:30pm because they were so busy and my nurse came over to check me and said, “Oh wow, you’re about at a 4 and your cervix is really thin!” and I started to freak out because I knew that I still needed a full IV bag before getting the epidural, plus labs. She checked me again and said, “oh wait, you’re a 3 and the back is still really thick.”, but I still was so worried it was going to speed up and I was going to have to have a natural birth. Oh if the old crunchy homebirthing Jenna could see this hot mess crying over labor going too quickly to get meds.
They eventually got me set up in a real room where I was still trying to stay calm with every contraction and continually kept praying and begging for the labor to slow and the IV to hurry while clutching my Miraculous Medal.
While the nurse was setting up the room, she turned on the heat lamp over the baby bed and I started crying because it finally hit me that I was REALLY here about to meet my baby. SO ready to be done being a hormonal, pregnant mess.
The IV came and I swear they were pumping it into me super quickly. The nurse initially told me that the anesthesiologist working wouldn’t give epidurals until the bag was empty but just before the bag was gone, she came in and said there was a shift change and the new one on would be in in a minute to start it!! Tears of joy.
They decided to place the epidural with me laying on my side which wasn’t how I got it with Prim so the process felt a little weird. It seemed to take a lot longer, but whatever, I was getting it. Everyone was joking how much happier and nicer I was now that I wasn’t freaking out over not getting it. So the epidural was placed, I was chilling even though the anesthesiologist went crazy with the tape and taped up my entire back so the line wouldn’t come out. My OB came by to check me and I was STILL A 3! Answered prayer! I was having contractions every 1.5 minutes so I was amazed. He broke my water and they tucked me in around 10:30pm to try and rest a little. We all figured labor would take a while so Daniel left to run back to the house to shower and change into more comfortable clothes (we live 2 minutes away from the hospital). So he gets back at 11, and I’m still just hanging out and praying for things to pick up again so I can be done. At 11:30, the nurse helped roll me over to my left side and put a peanut ball between my knees so that the baby could have some space while I was progressing. As soon as she left the room I felt SO much pressure. I thought maybe the epidural was messing up because I could feel a lot (pressure, not pain) and was really uncomfortable. I waited 15 minutes and it wasn’t improving so I called her in to give me a little epidural bump and she checked me and said, “OH. You’re complete and the baby’s head is right there. Give me a tiny push to see how he moves….. ohhh stop stop okay yeah. Let me call your doctor because the baby is very ready.”
Ahhhh! Already! Daniel came over and we were like OH MY GOSH how is it time to meet him already!? Will he be born Sept 15 or 16?? I told Daniel, “I think Sept 16, 12:04!”. The pressure was really starting to hit me and I was moaning through contractions and now praying and praying that pushing will be quick. My OB showed up at midnight, suited up, and had me start pushing with my next contraction. I could feel him make his way though, but no pain at all and it felt good to get rid of that pressure. About 3 contractions/pushes later and he was out! He started crying right away and ever since Ollie’s birth, hearing that cry is the best thing in the world. They plopped him on my chest and me and Daniel were swooning. Felix! He’s here! He was SO tiny and covered in SO much vernix. He opened his eyes and was looking around so much!
I asked what time he was born and of course, 12:04am! We couldn’t decide who he looked like, such a mix of all 3 kids! Funny how the more kids you have, it evolves into which kids they look like rather than more like mom or dad. Now we think he’s a mix of the boys.
We got to cuddle with him for 2 hours before they came in to take his measurements and move us up to the recovery room. He was 6 pounds, 11 ounces, 20″ long! Our smallest baby yet!
The hospital stay was whatever. I’m such a stink and can’t wait to get home and away from people. I’ll save the details on his naming for another post, but our Felix Thomas was here! So much relief in that and the birth being such a dreamy one (for birth). So many answered prayers and I was hoping and praying this labor would not only make being open to life an easier cross to bear, but one that would bring me closer to God and it definitely was and I feel so, so grateful for that because a few of my other births have had the opposite effect on me. I brought all your intentions with me, so thank you for helping me keep my mind distracted while I was waiting for that epidural!
The kids were so cute meeting him. Oliver was so cuddly. Atlas was slightly curious/slightly more interested in the hospital room. Prim was just being schmoozey with everyone in the room.
We’ve been home for a few days now and just taking things slower, trying to rest, and just falling in love.
Felix Thomas Wilber
September 16th, 2017
6 pounds, 11 ounces
We love you, Felix!