Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 14, 2020, will forever be one of the best days of my life...but let me give you a little back story first...

Starting at 38 weeks pregnant, I was trying everything to get this little dude to come. Yes, I tried eating spicy foods, ate pineapple, went on endless walks around the neighborhood, heck, I even tried bouncing on an exercise ball while watching TV at night, and yet, none of it worked. Baby boy was just not coming.

It was so disappointing because I kept having really uncomfortable Braxton Hicks contractions consistently starting at around 37 weeks, which is one of the reasons I decided to stop working a few days earlier than planned. My body (or so I thought), was preparing for labor...I just didn't think it would be after my due date. Everyone at work thought I was going to go at any moment since my belly had dropped so low.

Thank God it was only one day past my due date, but if you're a Mama, you know that the last few weeks of pregnancy are some of the hardest. Not only are you exhausted, uncomfortable, and literally can't sleep, you want nothing more than your sweet babe in your arms. I remember sitting in his nursery in the rocking chair balling my eyes out at night during week 39 (thanks hormones) because all I wanted was my baby boy. 

On the day before he was born, we had friends over to watch the Eagles game, and I remember telling them time and time again, "Next time I see you we'll have a baby!"...except for this time, it was for real! Once they left that evening, Chris and I decided it would be a great idea to play video games and stay up until 4:30 AM watching TV and just hanging out together. Little did we know that this would be the best (and worst) decision ever. haha! The lack of sleep started out a little earlier than anticipated, but I'm so thankful for the last night we had together as a couple.

As we went to sleep, for the first time in weeks, I felt calm instead of anxious. I fell right to sleep and enjoyed a brief four hours of sleep only to be woken up at 8:30 AM by a jolt in my stomach and a wave that felt like it was crashing over my entire lower back. I got up because I had to pee (what else is new during pregnancy), and discovered the lovely bloody show. I shouted from our bathroom to Chris and woke him up--I told him--"I think we're going to have a baby soon!"

We started timing my contractions almost immediately. I had a contraction app that I used and it said my contractions were about ten minutes apart. I decided that if I was having a baby later that day, I better do my hair and makeup before the contractions really picked up and started to be painful. 

By the time I finished my hair & makeup and put last-minute items into our hospital bags, my contractions were starting to come more frequently. They were about 4 to 5 minutes apart, and my app was saying to contact a doctor or go to the hospital. At 10:15 AM, I quickly called my Mom, and the first thing she said when she answered was, "Is it time?!" I couldn't believe I was calling her to finally tell her I think I was in labor for real this time!

I was supposed to have my 40-Week doctor's appointment at 1:30 PM, so at around 10:30 AM, I called to see if I could get my appointment bumped up a little earlier. They didn't have any earlier appointments, but they advised me to go to the hospital since I was having contractions I couldn't talk through while I was on the phone and since they were 4-5 minutes apart.

Chris packed up the car with our hospital bags, and by 10:49 AM, we were on the way to the hospital! Once we got to the hospital, I immediately changed into a hospital gown in the delivery room, and the nurses hooked me up to the monitors to time my contractions, heart rate, and blood pressure. I then found out that the only male doctor in my practice was the one that was on-call that day. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I was so adamant about not wanting him to be my labor & delivery doctor--I was always weirded out by having a male doctor down there, plus I had never seen him at all throughout my pregnancy, but guess what?! Nothing I could do about it--I was in labor, and there was nothing stopping it...except for the fact that my labor wasn't progressing anymore by the time I got to the hospital...The nurses checked my progression and said I was about 3-4 centimeters dilated, and then my doctor came in and he said I was only about 2 centimeters dilated, and he recommended I go home to labor a little longer. The contraction band was documenting my contractions were still 4-5 minutes apart and weren't getting any closer together, so we made the hard and defeating decision to go back home until they were 2-3 minutes apart.

The doctor said since it was my first pregnancy, I could either come back to the hospital later that evening farther along or it could be a day or two. I felt defeated and so embarrassed that I was in the hospital to give birth to my child and I was walking out the door & leaving still pregnant.

Once we got back to the car, I called my Mom to let her know that they sent me home to labor a little longer. I kid you not, within driving not even ten minutes down the road, my contractions got so intense that I couldn't talk through them at all, and I was in so much pain. Chris turned around, and we drove back to the hospital. We parked, and I decided I wanted to sit in the car in the parking lot for a few minutes to calm myself down before we went back in, but we never went back in that time. My contractions stopped again! I sobbed in the car and we drove back home.

As soon as we got back home around 1:30 PM, I laid on the couch and snuggled up with Lilly, our kitty. She could tell I was in pain and laid with me for a couple of hours as I tried to relax and breathe through each contraction. Chris was laying on the floor next to me and was pushing on my lower back during each contraction peak to help dull the pain--though it didn't dull the pain that much, it definitely felt comforting to have him there supporting me. I kept looking out the window in between each contraction--it looked so pretty out as it was flurrying and a mini layer of snow started to cover the grass.

Around 3 or 3:30 PM, I went upstairs to try and lay in bed and get some more rest, since my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart, but I just ended up screaming in pain in the bathroom. Word of advice: scream low pitched screams...not high. It helps with the pain. Also, TMI, but I legit went to the bathroom four times. I guess it was my body's way of assuring I wasn't going to poop during labor. haha! As I was going to the bathroom for the fourth time in a matter of an hour or so, I had this super strange feeling to push. This could not be good since I was obviously still at home. I screamed for Chris, because he had gone downstairs to make himself a smoothie knowing he probably wouldn't be eating for a while. He came rushing up and was helping me time contractions again. I lost track of timing my contractions for about thirty minutes, but holy crap, they were only 2 minutes apart and now it was about 4:15 PM.

I managed to get myself down both flights of stairs and Chris helped me put my shoes on. While he was grabbing my purse, I laid on the staircase landing during a few painful contractions. As soon as I had a gap in between contractions, I waddled myself to the car, and we pulled out of the driveway at 4:30 PM.

The second car ride was intense. I was in so much pain that I couldn't talk through contractions whatsoever and every bump in the road made everything so much more painful. Car rides during labor are the worst. We got to the hospital right before 5:00 PM. Chris dropped me off at the main entrance and I walked in myself while he went to park the car.

I immediately asked for a wheelchair, I legit couldn't walk another step. The lady was so nice and paged the nurses in labor & delivery and they were on their way down to help me up to the labor & delivery floor. Chris luckily found a pretty close parking spot and helped wheel me to the elevator. As soon as we got to the elevators, the nurses we had earlier in the day, came out and helped us into the elevator to go up. They tried to help distract me from the pain and said, "We knew it was you as soon as they paged us! We had a feeling you were going to be back later tonight!" I looked at both of them and said, "I'm not too proud, this is so painful--I want the epidural."

Now, up until this point, I had only envisioned a natural, drug-free delivery, and was more scared for the epidural than actual birth, so the fact that I was saying I wanted an epidural was surprising to both myself and Chris. He reassured me that there was no shame in getting an epidural, which made me feel more comfortable with changing my entire birth plan the moment we got back into the hospital.

By the time I got back into a hospital gown and hooked up to the monitors it was around 5:15 PM. The nurse put in my IV and took my blood, which I later learned they send a tube of blood to the lab to be sure I qualify for an epidural. Let me tell you--staying completely still while getting an IV and blood drawn is extremely hard while having increasingly painful contractions. Thank God my nurse was amazing and helped me stay calm and Chris was holding my hand I was squeezing Chris's hand off. *repeat* Slowly counting down from ten during each wave of contractions was the only way I could get through the pain.  Due to Covid, there were no birth classes for me to take, so I created my own coping techniques in the moment.

A few minutes after my IV was in, around 5:30PM, I was laying on my side laboring through contractions, I screamed, "HELP! I feel like I have to push!" Immediately my nurse ran from the monitors that were next to me to glove up. She hadn't checked my progression since I was back since she was the one getting my IV in and getting me hooked up and my other nurse was getting other things prepped. Once she had gloves on, she checked me, and she says, "You're 8 or 9 centimeters. Try not to push yet, but it's almost time to have a baby!" I can still remember how calm she was and I'm so thankful for her.

Now let me remind you, I had just gotten my IV a few minutes prior, which means I still hadn't gotten an epidural...nor was my blood even sent down to the lab for testing. I was about to do this all-natural. There was something empowering realizing I was going to deliver my baby all-natural after all. I had no time at all to get an epidural, and I think it was God's way of knowing the desires of my heart and helping my body along during labor.

At this point, I wasn't focused on what was going on around me, just on myself, counting, and making sure Chris was holding my hand and fanning me with his other hand. I had him grab my labor folder with my birth plan (that no one ever saw) in it and use the folder as a fan since we never had time to grab my fan from my hospital bag...which was still in the car since we had literally just gotten there about 30 minutes prior to this. Chris told me after, but the nurses were yelling down the hallway to get the doctor, and both my labor & delivery nurses were preparing to deliver themselves in case he didn't get there in time.

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I was still laboring on my side, so to paint a picture, I'm in the hospital bed on my left side, wearing a mask (thanks Covid), and I started to have a hard time breathing with a stupid mask on during each contraction--mainly because I was so overwhelmingly hot. I ripped my mask off and my nurse gave me the oxygen mask to help me calm down and relax, and thankfully after a few minutes, I did...until I screamed "I have to pee!" *Cue the laughter--yes, you can laugh, cause I am* News flash--it wasn't pee. My water broke and OMG, it's the weirdest feeling ever. I seriously thought I had peed all over the place.

Freaking finally my doctor comes into the room, and it was around 5:35/5:40 PM. He checks my progression, and I can't remember exactly what he said, but all I do remember is him and the nurses saying something like "It's time to have a baby, let's get you in position." They helped get me from my side to my back, my feet go up in the footrests, and it hits me that oh my gosh--I'm about to have a baby!"

My nurses are prepping everything for once Bentley is born, and my doctor is ready in position as we waited for my next contraction to come. The nurse instructed me to put my hands on my thighs, and my doctor said to push when I felt the next urge to push. As soon as the next contraction came, I felt the urge to push. My body knew what to do. I pushed as hard as I could until the contraction ended, and yes, I low pitch screamed through each contraction. I swear it helped. The next contraction came, I pushed again. The doctor asked if Chris wanted to watch--but he stayed right by my side. I think he could see enough by my head. haha!

After my second push, I remember the doctor asking if I wanted to feel the top of Bentley's head, and as I started to look down, towards the doctor, Chris said, "Don't look down, look at me." I immediately knew in the moment that Chris was saving me from passing out--later he told me I was right. Apparently, there's a lot of blood during labor haha!...and I am quite queasy whenever I see the smallest amount, so I am so glad that I didn't fully look down and break focus.

The good thing is as I was looking to my left at Chris and then slowly turned my head back straight to focus, I came to the realization that it was almost over, and soon my baby was going to be born. As the next contraction came, my doctor told me to push as hard as I could. I pushed, and right after I pushed, he said to stop for a second and then he said to push one more time!

On my third contraction and third set of pushing, just a few minutes after the doctor got to the delivery room, and only 48 minutes after arriving at the hospital, on December 14, 2020, our son, Bentley Michael Jones was born at 5:48 PM.

The moment he was born, I listened for his first cry, the doctor & nurses wrapped a blanket around him, and they placed my sweet baby on my chest. Chris started taking pictures the moment he was placed on my chest, and I'll be forever thankful for those photos. I turned and smiled at him, and I don't think I've ever been happier in my entire life. Giving birth was the most empowering, happiest moment of my life--though it was hard, it was exhilarating.

By this time, nothing mattered to me except the sweet boy on my chest. I stayed focused on Bentley while my doctor clamped the umbilical cord two minutes after Bentley was born, which was also when it stopped pulsing, and Chris was able to cut the cord. Shortly after this, I remember my doctor pushed on my stomach, and I hear him say, "placenta discarded". I don't know why, but from everything I always read, I thought you had to birth the placenta...I honestly didn't even feel it nor did I feel the ring of fire that everyone always talks about when the baby's head crowns. I'm just going to say Thank God, and not question it. haha!

Once the placenta was out, I remember the doctor saying to the nurse that there was no episiotomy and that I only needed 1-2 stitches and that the tearing was extremely minimal (thank God, again!). If I'm being completely honest, I remember getting those couple of stitches hurt worse than actual delivery. At that moment, I held Bentley just a little bit tighter.

I was able to hold Bentley for about forty minutes before the nurses took him to the other side of the room to be weighed, measured, and checked out. They ended up keeping him under the heat lamp for about 10 minutes to help him warm up and regulate his body temperature. Chris stayed right there with him and took tons of pictures as the nurses did their thing! A pediatrician also came in and checked on Bentley during this time as well and said everything looked great, and they'd check in on him tomorrow!

At 6:46 PM, the nurses handed Bentley to Chris, and he held him for the first time--just shy of him being an hour old. The nurses left the room and allowed us to spend a little bit of time together as a new family of three.

After about half an hour, the nurses came back in to let us know that they were about to switch shifts at 7:30 PM, and introduced us to the two nurses that would be my new nurses until morning when they'd come back for another shift. I was extremely thankful to have the nurses that I did, and even more thankful that they were able to stop back in our room the next day!

By the time 7:30 PM rolled around, it was time for the dreaded walk across the room to the bathroom to get cleaned up and use the bathroom for the first time post-delivery. Going to the bathroom is not scary or painful at all--in fact, I was shocked it didn't hurt to pee. The hardest part for me was sitting down to pee. At this point, you'll be introduced to your new best friend aka your peri bottle, and yes, you will love that thing for weeks to come.

Being as honest and open as possible--the only thing that I will warn you about is the amount of blood and bleeding you will have on those first trips to the bathroom. I wish I had been more mentally prepared for it, because I honestly didn't know just how much I'd be bleeding. I knew people considered it to be like a super heavy period, but it's slightly more than that. On my first walk to the bathroom after delivery, I left a trail of blood on the floor, it dripped all down my leg, and remember...I don't do well with blood.

The nurses were amazing and they helped me get cleaned up, I used the peri bottle to clean up as best as I could down there, and the nurses helped me put on my super stylish undies, pad, and ice pack combo. As soon as I was all put back together and got into a clean hospital gown, I turned to wash my hands, made the mistake of looking back at the blood on the floor, and grabbed both nurse's arms, because I knew I was about to pass out. The last thing I remember was one of them on each side of me, starting to walk to the bed, and then I woke up in the bed with the nurses waving smelling salts in my face, and I said, "Did I pass out?" They totally lied to keep me calm and said no, and I could see Chris's face as he was holding Bentley in the chair across the room, and he still looked calm, which made me believe them, but later he told me I totally blacked out and he was freaking out inside. Oops...Sorry for the scare, babe!

Once I was fully conscious again, my nurse brought us a menu to get some food in my belly since I had not eaten all day since food was the last thing on my mind in between contractions. Let me just tell you...the first meal after labor & delivery is so good. I was beyond hungry, and couldn't wait to eat!

While we were waiting for food to be delivered to the room, and before we were officially moved over to the room we'd be staying the night in, Chris went and grabbed all of our hospital bags from the car and brought them up to our new room.

While Chris was gone, the nurse brought Bentley over to me so that I could hold him and also start to breastfeed. Though breastfeeding ended up not being a long-lasting part of our journey, I'm extremely thankful I was able to nurse during the first couple of days when it is the most beneficial. The nurses were amazing, and I had several lactation specialists help, but buddy boy was not latching properly, and it was quickly becoming too mentally draining for me. Fast forward on this super quick--once Bentley was about 36 hours old, he refused to latch or eat for almost 9 hours, and that's when we made the call to the hospital to ask about the formula. He gulped down the formula, and that's when we knew formula was going to be the right choice for our family. Fed is best, and there is no shame in how your baby is being fed!

Okay, circling back--Chris was grabbing our hospital bags, I'm attempting to nurse Bentley for the first time, and I get a call from him--he's stuck in the elevator. I swear, I can't make this up. haha! The nurses had to page the maintenance team to help get him out. Apparently, a whole set of elevators all stopped working at the same time, and several people got stuck at once. There's always gotta be something crazy happening, right?! Chris finally made it back to us, and the nurses helped me get into a wheelchair, put Bentley in his rolling bed, and we all went over to our new room.

At some point--I can't remember when, but the doctors and nurses asked if we would be okay with a 24-hour discharge due to the snowstorm that was coming. They didn't want to risk us getting stuck at the hospital or worse--getting stuck driving home during the snowstorm. I was totally fine with a 24-hour discharge, in fact, I am so thankful to have been able to go home a little earlier than normal. The nurses (and literally everyone you know) will always say, "sleep when the baby sleeps", but what they also don't tell you is that you literally do not sleep in the hospital.

Between the nurses coming in & turning on the lights to take your temperature, blood pressure, and check to see if your uterus is shrinking properly or if your bleeding is normal...and then checking on the baby and their don't sleep. I think while we were at the hospital, we both slept an hour...maybe. The really good thing about the nurses coming in all the time is that you can ask tons of questions. Don't be afraid to ask questions or ask for help. They are there to help you, and if your nurses are anything like mine, they are more than happy to help and are darn good at their job, so the more you ask, the more you learn.

Throughout the rest of the first night & early morning, we had several nurses come in and help with different things. I had an amazing lactation consultant help me nurse during those first crucial hours, I had nurses make sure I was okay in the bathroom since Chris was taking care of Bentley, and I even had nurses hold Bentley while Chris was in the bathroom with me since I couldn't go by myself yet.

In those first 24 hours after birth, I fell even more in love with Chris, because gosh, this guy stayed calm and helped me through labor & delivery, and was now helping me in the bathroom, changing every dirty diaper, and taking care of Bentley every time something was wrong since I couldn't. Seeing him with Bentley and take on the father role so effortlessly was definitely one of the highlights of our relationship.

As the hours passed, the night turned into the morning, and the nurse came in to give Bentley his first bath around 4:30 AM. Normally they like to give babies a bath around six hours after birth, but they waited a little bit longer since it's even better for a baby's skin the longer you wait. Chris was able to go with the nurse to the nursery and took pictures of his first bath, which not a lot of parents get to do! I stayed in the room and slept for a whole hour, but gosh, it was so needed.

Over the course of the next fourteen hours or so that we were in the hospital, we soaked in all the information and help that we could from the nurses and doctors. The hospital even had a celebratory dinner sent up to our room to celebrate!

Once Bentley passed his discharge tests, we got the official okay to be discharged! We were able to head home just a little over 24 hours after Bentley was born, and thankfully, we made it home safe before the snowstorm. My parents and Chris's parents were at our house when we got home, and we were able to introduce their newest grandson.

I could go on & on recalling many details, in fact, I selfishly went a little overboard on this post to have it as a post I revisit often, but I also want it to serve as a huge encouragement to all of you mamas out there reading this. No matter how you deliver--whether naturally, with an epidural, or c-section, know you're amazing! IF giving birth naturally is something that you've always wanted to do, don't let anyone discourage you from trying. Your body was made to do amazing things, and you can do it. Does it hurt? Yes... Are contractions painful? Yes...but it's worth it. It's empowering to bring that sweet babe into the world.

On December 14, 2020, at 5:48 PM, I immediately fell in love with a little boy who weighed 6lb 2.5oz and 19 inches long. He'll forever be my baby, and I'm beyond lucky that God chose me to be his Mama.

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