(all photos are below the story. All photograph’s taken by the wonderfully talented Jaquilyn Shumate!)
Let’s start on August 3rd, 2015 my due date.
I woke up and saw my midwife for our usual prenatal visit. We both agreed this baby needed to come soon. I had been hanging out around 4-5cm for the last 2 weeks. I was ready. All pregnant women are ready in their last trimester..let’s be real here. I went from my appointment to see my acupuncturist. She worked her magic. I walked out feeling so relaxed, so at peace, so comfortable. And let me tell you that is no small task when you’re 40 weeks pregnant. If you’re pregnant right now, you need some acupuncture in your life, just trust me. By 4pm I was noticing my body changing. Hey-OOO. I tried not to pay too much attention. I wasn’t about to get my hopes up if this labor train wasn’t going to take off running. I went to bed that evening feeling crampy, but that certainly was nothing new. I woke up around 4am and knew this was it. Labor began hard & fast. It hit me like a train. Just like it did last time. My contractions started about 2 min apart. I woke Jeff up.. well I yelled at him really..and moved to the bathroom to put my contacts on and brush my teeth. I called my doula, Patti, and talked with her through a few contractions. She encouraged me and told me to get in the bath and call her back. Things picked up pretty quickly from there. I texted my midwife and told her my contractions were close. She called me back…I knew that was good if she was calling me and not texting me…and told me to get to the hospital. Alright alright we’re having a baby soon!
Jeff had all the while been waking up those on our “labor call list.” Yes, I am that person with lists of all sorts of things on my nightstand. So naturally there is a “who to call when I’m in labor list” for Jeff. Jeff’s mom made her way to our house to stay with Monroe. Jeff had our bags in the car in a flash. His mom pulled in and we pulled out of the driveway simultaneously. Jeff reversed down our street and pulled up in front of the Reynolds house. Alicia Reynolds, my dear friend, neighbor, and co-worker was also planning to attend our birth as our doula. We hadn’t been able to get a hold of her or her husband via phone. I harshly told Jeff, “if she’s not out here in 1 minute, DRIVE!” Jeff hopped out of the car and started beating the door down. Sure enough 1 min later, Alicia was in the backseat and we were off! Her face of bewilderment in that moment was awesome. Not fully awake, but realizing this was happening. Months later I found some lovely videos Alicia took of me working through contractions in the car on the way to the hospital. That’s some goooooooood birth control for you, right there folks.
4:30 AM The car ride is always super lame. You can’t move into more comfortable positions, it’s hard to focus, and the twists and turns are not fun. Let’s just say I was feeling a lot of pressure. We pulled up to Tacoma General Hospital about 5am. I got out with Alicia and hurried toward patient registration. The sweet staff member at registration, fearful I was going to have a baby in front of her, told us to head on up to labor & delivery. “Good thing we know where to go,” I said to Alicia as we both chuckled. She pushed me toward the elevator in a wheelchair. We were a hilarious site to see at that point, I’m sure.
(As I came in from valet, I was looking for the girls. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them, laughing and screaming as they kept flying down different hallways trying to find the way. I was laughing so hard. It was one of the funniest things I have ever seen. They were a hot mess. – Jeff)
We came flying into labor & delivery. I got up on the bed in triage and the nurse checked me. I was 6CM. “You’re kidding me,” I said. I moaned and groaned some more. I was pretty bummed. I thought for sure this felt like transition. I was hoping for at least 7 or 8CM by then. I’m supposed to know this stuff right?! Guess not. “Well, we are keeping you,” the nurse said. “For darn sure you are!!” I’m thinking in my head. I gather up my huge belly and waddle down to a labor room. I started to feel pretty nauseous at that point. The nurse went through her usual intake with me. She worked on getting my hep lock going while I sat on the ball. Pretty sure I threw up at that point. That part is a little hazy for me. I heard Jeff say, “Patti is here.” I felt so much peace just knowing she was there. I couldn’t see her, but I didn’t need to. I got in the tub for a bit. I hear Jeff announce, “Jaquilyn is here.” Ahh, “YES” was all I could think in my head. I was feeling pretty nauseous. I was on my hands and knees in the tub with my forehead resting on a pillow on the ledge. My nurse did a great job of letting me be in that position while she listened for heart tones. Those TG nurses you guys, GOLD.
5:55AM. Alicia held peppermint oil for me to smell while I was in the tub. I threw up again. Jeff got in the tub and helped with counter pressure on my back. Way to go Jeff. I heard my midwife’s voice. I couldn’t see her, as my eyes were closed, but I was so happy to know she was there. Jeff held my hand in the tub through a few more contractions. My midwife, Debbie, checked me and I was still 6CM. “EFFFFFFFFF” I thought in my head. I was starting to get discouraged. What was the hold up here?!? I don’t know how much more of this I can do. Time to change positions and get this kiddo moving on down. I sat on the ball. I love the ball in labor. It works for me. It grounds me. Time to change positions again. I laid in bed with the peanut ball between my legs. That was probably the most uncomfortable position for me. But, I needed to open up my pelvis and encourage baby boy to move on down. Get down Son. I didn’t last long in bed, and headed for the bathroom. I had some good contractions on the toilet and was feeling like I was really making some solid progress. I had more bloody show (which all of us birth professionals get super excited about). I was encouraged. I got back on the ball. Everyone took turns holding my hands and giving me counter pressure on my lower back. I NEED someone to hold my hand through every contraction. It helps me feel like I’m not alone. Support is everything. It’s amazing how the right support people in labor will empower you to keep going. Patti asked if I wanted my bag of waters ruptured. “YES, YES please God break my bag,” I said. Debbie made a small hole in my amniotic sac. A little trickle of fluid came out.
6:45AM I got back in the tub. Debbie checked me again. Still 6CM. “Oh merciful Savior! NOO.” I was starting to doubt myself at that point. Every laboring mama has that moment when they just aren’t sure they can do it anymore. Patti could see my disappointment and starting whispering encouraging words in my ear. Keeping me focused. Reminding me how strong I was. I laid on my side in the tub. Jeff supported me. Those beta-endorphins (the feel good pain relieving endorphins) came rushing in and I dozed in between contractions. You are so aware of your body, so physically present, grounded, and yet your mind and emotions are in such a different place.
7:40AM. It all changed. Started to feel major pressure.
7:47AM I got pretty grunty at that point. There was no way I couldn’t push. “I gotta push,” I yelled. I had just a little bit of cervix left. I tried with everything in me not to push. To blow. To keep my air moving in and out. Let’s just say there may have been some very high pitched screaming in Jeff’s ear over the next few minutes. I got out of the tub and I was complete.
Almost 8:00AM. I went from 6-10cm in about 20 minutes! I tried to push once in a semi sitting position. Nope, no way was that going to work for me. I flipped over onto my hands and knees. I grabbed the side railing of the bed and barred down. It was a pretty incredible feeling. I was so aware of my baby and my body. I could feel exactly how I needed to move to get this boy out. I am still so amazed at how you work with your baby and your body to give birth. Get this kid out of me NOW! I thought. I pushed twice and his head was out. I just remember wanting to push as hard and fast as I could. I wanted my baby on my chest and out of my body. One more push and the shoulders were out. I was channelling my inner Xena Warrior Princess right about now. One more push and he was here! I pushed for 5 minutes and out came my baby boy at 8:05AM. Relief. Sweet relief.
I turned around and reached for my baby. There is just nothing that will ever compare to meeting your child for the first time. He was here. The world around you stops. Euphoria floods your system. Your brain, heart, mind, and spirit are primed to bond with this new life before you. It is truly miraculous how God designed for us to give birth. Happy Birthday sweet boy. We are so glad you’re here. All 9 lbs 15 oz. of you.
August 4th, 8:05AM.
Things get a little fuzzy for me for the next hour or two. Indiana’s umbilical cord was very large and very short. His umbilical cord broke in half shortly after he was born. I was oblivious to what had happened as the nurses helped me turn around and receive my baby boy. I savored those glorious, sacred moments of skin to skin time and eventually looked around to see where Jeff was. Where was Jeff? Eventually, Jaquilyn, our amazing birth photographer reassured me Jeff would be right there. He just needed a minute. Little did I know, Jeff had begun to pass out and was lying on the hospital floor. I’ll let Jeff take it from here:
(Insert Jeff’s passing out story)
I was really proud of myself for not passing out when our daughter was born a couple years ago. I’m known to hit the deck when things get kinda crazy, or even when just getting my blood drawn or teeth cleaned. So it was definitely a major accomplishment. I was all-good with how this labor was going. Indie was starting to show the top of his head, so I started to head down to help catch him. Yup, I was being pretty brave. After a couple quick pushes, Indie came right out. Just as I was getting down there to catch him, the midwife reached for him. The first thing I noticed was the umbilical cord was ginormous. Like really, really fat. Twice the size of a sausage. It was also extremely short. No one knew that it was short. Our daughter’s was as thin as a tootsie roll and at least 3 feet long. Also, when Alise’ water was broken, only a little fluid came out. Indie’s head was so big, all the fluid was trapped behind him. So when he came out, so did the Atlantic Ocean. When the midwife caught Indie and pulled him away to hand her to Alise, the cord SNAPPED! Oh my. It was like a water balloon exploded. Everything in a 4-foot radius was covered in red.
Then it got interesting. I immediately looked at the midwife’s and nurse’s faces, and their jaws dropped. None of them had ever seen that happen. I guess there is a name for it, so it does happen. But really rare. Our doula was quick to help make sure they started clamping the cord, and I knew that things got really serious. That is when I started feeling the not so warm and fuzzy feelings. All that happened in the course of about 10 seconds, so I had already turned my head back up to Alise? face to help comfort her. I buried my head in my arm, and tried to breath. But it was too late. Once it starts, it doesn’t stop. And I know how this goes, so I sat down on the yoga ball behind me. But the sounds around me kept growing more faint and I had the massive sweats. Jaquilyn, our photographer, helped get me to the ground just as everything went black. The funny thing about this is I know what is happening to me, and what comes next, I just can’t control it. It really is a euphoric, and awful feeling.
At this time Indie was up on Alise’ chest, but I remember very distinctly hearing her ask where I was. Our doula Patti and Jaquilyn were quick to attend to me. I had a couple orange juices pumped in to me, and I was back on my feet in about 90 seconds. I was like new again. So I lost the bet that I wouldn’t pass out this go around. But I guess I had every right to… The next hour was very tense. Alise was bleeding really bad. I started to have a few thoughts creep into my head that this could go south really quickly. Thankfully we had some of the best staff to attend to Alise, and they got her stable. It was never really said, but I believe they saved her life. I was so unbelievably grateful. Thank you Jesus for sparing my wife.
I had Indiana on my chest 15 minutes, when the nurse asked to take him to the warmer. His forehead was a bit bruised from his quick entry into the world. Uh yeah, his 10 lb head flew out of me. That’ll do it. The nurse wanted to make sure he wasn’t blue-ish for any other indication. I was working on delivering my placenta, and loosing a lot of blood at a very fast rate. I had some large clots that were not coming out. I couldn’t control the shakes that overtook my body. Immediately after the delivery, the uterus has two main aims – the first is to control bleeding and the next is to revert back to its former state. Bleeding is controlled by contraction of the muscles. The uterine muscles are arranged in crisscross layers – so that contraction of the muscles constricts the blood vessels between them, causing less blood flow. Debbie (CNM… not be confused with my mom & mother in law) was on it, and acted very quickly to go get those clots. That was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. She reached inside of me pulling out huge clots, while a nurse aggressively massaged and kneaded my uterus to encourage it to begin to shrink. UGHH…now that my friends sucks. My uterus was still pretty “boggy” at that time and I was given medication to control the bleeding and produce uterine contractions in hope to aid the involution process. My midwife and the nurses were able to get my bleeding under control after about 20 minutes and got me cleaned up. It was intense, that’s all I can say. Jeff soaked in a few baby snuggles and I was eager to get my little guy back on my chest. He was perfect. Getting to know your baby in those early moments are some of the best memories of my life. To know someone so well, yet never having laid eyes on one another, you soak in every part of their being…it’s amazing. Those moments are magical as you relish in the details of their tiny hands, their perfect nose, and their sparkling eyes that stare right back at you. They know exactly who you are. You are Mama.
Thank you to our wonderful midwife, Debbie. You were a miracle worker, and a dream come true for us. We are forever indebted to you. Thank you to the entire nursing staff at Tacoma General that delivered Indiana and cared for us for almost 30 hours. Every one of you were gracious, kind, and always so attentive. Thank you Patti for being such an incredible doula and master of your craft. You have a gift and a purpose, and we are the beneficiary of that. You are an angel. Thank you Alicia for being such a wonderful supporter and encourager. We are so thankful to have shared that experience with you. If we ever need someone to push a wheelchair and carry a yoga ball at the same time, you have mastered that incredible feat! And Jaquilyn, wow. Just wow. Your gift of photography and capturing our life moments will always be cherished by us. We couldn’t imagine not having all these wonderful photographs of our children’s birth. We know you weren’t feeling well that day, but you still came for us and were a total rockstar. More than just the photos you took, you were such a wonderful supporter for both of our kids births. And thank you for finding that orange juice so fast!
All photograph’s taken by the wonderfully talented Jaquilyn Shumate!