Our Birth Story

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

I have no idea what day it is. My house looks like a Babies R Us ran through it. I resemble a cross between a homeless man and a large cow. (Moo.) I smell. I ooze. My armpits are terrifying. My belly is jiggly. And I haven't had more than three hours of consecutive sleep in over a week... But I have never been so happy, so fulfilled, and so in love.

I'm sitting in my nursery, rocking my sweet daughter in my arms--just like I've always dreamed. I can't stop staring at her fiery red hair, her little lips that I love to kiss, and her tiny fingers clutching mine. She's our little miracle, our red-headed warrior who fought so bravely to be here with me. It's only been 10 days, and I can't imagine life without her.

I'm reminiscing on this last thrilling, terrifying, and tiring week. This birth story will probably be too long, but I don't care. I want to remember every detail of the best and worst day of our lives. (Pre-apologies for any and all oversharing.)

Wednesday had been an extremely exhausting day for me, which makes it sounds like I did more than eat pineapple and edit a few things... But false. I had done nothing. I emailed my team at work to tell them I would be taking a half day and proceeded to take a glorious four-hour nap on my couch.

When Grahm got home, we decided to get something to eat. Fried jalapeƱos sounded like the perfect way to get to our overdue daughter out of me, so off to Willies we went. We ate cheeseburgers, watched the Thunder slaughter the Heat (much to Grahm's enjoyment), and talked about our days. I complained a few times during dinner that my back was hurting, just like I had for the last nine months. Neither of us thought anything about it. I'm a whiner like that.

Later that night, I had Grahm hang the very last thing in the nursery. Sawyer must have known her little room was ready for her, because approximately two seconds later I had a mind numbing pain in my lower back. Like a thousand knives were stabbing me right in the kisser. I clutched my hindparts like it was the last jelly-filled donut in all the land. I shouted, "Oh my Gosh!" and then it was over. Short but not so sweet. I looked up to see my very wide-eyed husband. "Uh, uh... Are you okay?" "Yeah, I think so. That was weird. Now I have to pee." When I popped a squat on the pot, I soon realized that I had lost my mucous plug (I already apologized for the over sharing). This didn't mean labor was imminent, but it was on the horizon. I ran to Grahm and told him the good (albeit grody) news. He grimaced and then smiled before kissing me so sweetly. We didn't really say anything, but we both knew our time together as a family of two was coming to a close. Baby Girl was on her way. We just didn't realize how soon that would really be...

Before I had time to fully understand the impact of what was going on, I had another terrible back pain. This time it was worse. More concentrated. I didn't even have time to cry the millions of tears I wanted to shed before the next one started. I began yelling at Grahm. "This is early labor?? This can't be (bad word, bad word) early labor!" Our midwife told us the early labor stage would be ignorable. She recommended going on a date or taking a nice nap, anything to pretend like labor wasn't really happening. I would need my energy later, so it was best not to focus on what was happening. But this? This was about as ignorable as the zit I had on my chin for high school prom.

"Babe, we can do this," Grahm said calmly as he held me (more accurately: as I gripped his arm with surprising force for someone my size). "Just breathe with me. In and out. In and out. Focus on Sawyer. Our baby girl is coming!" I know he said many many other sweet things, but this is essentially the last thing I really remember. All I could focus on was getting through the pain.

"I can't do this. I absolutely can NOT do this if this is the beginning," I kept screaming between contractions, which were now coming a minute apart. Grahm, the poor man, then called our midwife and told her we were on our way to the birthing center. We had no idea how far along I was, but based on my contractions we were worried Sawyer was going to be delivered right there in our bedroom with only her daddy to catch her. Frantically, Grahm grabbed our bags. "Is there anything else we need? Did I forget anything?" he asked before escorting me to the car. "I don't (bad word) care if we have everything. Just get me to the (bad word) hospital!" I yelled. (Quite a delight, was I not?)

I don't remember the car ride. Grahm told me later I kept whispering Sawyer's name in between moaning, yelling, and clutching my back... A sign to him that I really was out of it. I don't really remember even arriving to the birthing center with my two kind midwives there to greet us. I just remember they checked my dilation and told me I was only 3 cm.

It was then I cried. It was ugly, crazy lady, think-I'm-gonna-die, projectile tears. 3 cm? Three? There was no way that's right.

Somehow they got me into the tub. The warm water felt nice, but it was like throwing Neosporin on a gaping wound. I continued to have contractions. Though it helped to have the support of Grahm and the midwives, I knew there was no way I was going to make it to ten centimeters. This was only the beginning, and I felt like I was going to die. The back labor was too intense.

We weren't there long before we decided to do a transfer of care to the hospital. I cried. A lot. I kept saying that I felt like a failure because I did. They told me though I was 1 in 100. Labor isn't usually this intense this early (lucky me); I was laboring like I was 9 cm not a depressing 3.

Another car trip to the hospital across the street. The hospital has a lot of construction going on so finding an entrance was like discovering Atlantis and a ten-day backpacking trip all in one. I remember being wheeled up by my midwife while Grahm parked the car. I had a contraction right outside the sliding glass doors. I stood up, hugged my midwife while she put pressure on my back, and moaned. When I could sit again, I realized two small children had witnessed the entire spectacle. Poor things are probably scarred for life because of the large lady who sounded like a dying ostrich. Finally, I was in a bed. I had on a hospital gown that I'm sure someone had died in yesterday, but I was optimistic. Relief was on its way. Baby Girl would be here soon.

Except that it wasn't. She wasn't. Over an hour later (from birthing center to hospital bed), I was still only 3 cm. The doctor wanted me to be 4 cm before he administered the epidural. Bastard. The squeaky wheel may get the oil, but the large and extremely loud pregnant woman apparently does not get the epidural. Grahm and my two midwives helped me through more contractions. We tried different positions to speed up the progression of labor, but I was feeling no relief for my back. I felt like a big ball of fire and failure.

Almost two hours later, I was finally being wheeled into another room. My main midwife left. There was nothing else she could do, and there was a number cap on people in our room. The anesthesiologist took his sweet time coming to my room. When he finally did arrive, I was 6 cm and contracting harder than ever. He told me, "You can't move while I put this in you. Don't touch your back." I wanted to slap him, but I didn't because I wanted my own relief more than I wanted his pain. It's amazing the nurse still has her arm from all the squeezing I did. I had three contractions while he stuck me with the biggest and sweetest of needles in the entire world. I still have no idea how I don't have extensive nerve damage. It was a miracle I was able to stay still.

Relief then came, and it was glorious. While we waited for me to fully dilate, the nurse broke my water with a long, skinny poker that looked like a chopstick. It was then she saw that Sawyer had pooped in the womb (meconium). She alerted us to this, but told us it was nothing to be overly concerned with. "Just something to be aware of," she explained.

A few hours and several text messages later (sorry to everyone who received a text from me at 3 am), the doctor came in and told me I was fully dilated. It was time to push. I was cracking jokes and feeling great. My socks were neon-colored and mismatched (of course) as I placed them in the stirrups. My hair was in a high pony tail, and I had zero makeup to my name... I looked like a 15-year-old cheerleader. But I was ready.

"Alright, Jena. Push toward your butt. Ready? Go!" First of all, it's a very hard thing to push toward something you can no longer feel. It's also a little unnerving to have a swarm of doctors and nurses all staring at your tinkle taco, waiting for you to make something happen. That's a lot of pressure. To make matters worse, Sawyer was sunnyside up (the reason for my intense back labor) and she kept getting "stuck" when I pushed. After 30 minutes of unproductive pushing, they turned my epidural off so I could feel the contractions again and push when I was supposed to. (The words "epidural" and "off" should really never be uttered to a woman in labor. FYI.)

Another hour went by, and I still hadn't budged her. But I was starting to feel the contractions again. My temperature was 102, and Sawyer's heart rate suddenly skyrocketed to 190. I was crying out in pain again. Before we knew it, the small room was a cluster. Doctors and nurses seemed to be in every nook and cranny staring at my every nook and cranny. The main doctor, I still don't know her name, told us that we really needed to take me back for a c-section. Sawyer's heart rate and meconium and my temperature/inability to push her out were beyond worrisome. No part of me wanted a c-section. No part of me wanted to agree.

They wheeled me away to prep me for surgery. I remember calling out for Grahm and crying in pain. They weren't going to let him back until I was prepped for surgery. He told me later that he had stayed in the room and cried. Everything was happening so fast. It seemed like it was all spinning out of our control.

It seemed like ages later when they finally called him back. We were now ready to get Sawyer out. He sat beside me, holding my hand and whispering encouraging things. They wouldn't allow him to stand to see past the horrid blue curtain that separated us from our daughter. Neither of us really knew what was going on, but we were excited. We were only moments away from holding our sweet baby girl ...or so we thought.

It was incredibly frustrating not knowing what was going on. "What's happening? What's happening?" I kept asking like an annoying parrot. Finally I heard a voice say, "Girl. 9:10." At first, we thought that was the weight (holy chunk!). But then we realized that was the time of birth. At the same time I realized that, I realized that she wasn't crying. She was completely silent, and it was deafening.

It was a moment I'll never forget. A moment I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. My baby wasn't crying, and I couldn't see what was happening. All Grahm and I could do was hold each other's hands and cry. I kept asking the doctors around me, "What's wrong? Where is my baby? Why can't I hear her?" Their only response was, "She's in good hands." It did nothing to ease ever-wandering mind, which kept jumping from one horrible situation to the next. Grahm tried to comfort me, to pray for our sweet daughter that we had yet to see, but he was just as terrified. It's an inexplicable feeling, really. The moment you have been planning for, hoping for, excited for for so long suddenly turning into the most horrifying minute of your life.

They wheeled her by us before rushing her to the NICU. The nurse paused briefly so we could see her for the first time. She was white as a sheet, and her big eyes were looking around. I didn't get to hold her. Or touch her. Or tell her that I love her and I'm her mommy. I just laid there, clutching Grahm, and bawling. Still we had no idea what was going so terribly wrong. All I wanted was to hold her. All I wanted was for her to be okay.

An excruciating six hours later, we finally got to go up to the NICU to see her. This is what she looked like.
We still didn't get to hold her. We could only sit and stare at our little girl hooked up to so many wires. She looked so tiny. So innocent. Forget the back labor. Forget the contractions during my epidural administration. This was the hardest part. Seeing her, but not scooping her up in my arms and smothering her with kisses.

It killed me to see her like this. To have these nurses making decisions for my baby. They heard her every cry. They got to console her. They changed all her diapers. They swaddled her. They fed her. I was an emotional wreck. I felt like I was missing everything while I was stuck in my own room on the floor below. I couldn't be up there as much as I wanted because the nurses and doctors wanted me to take it easy to focus on my own recovery.

The next day we finally got to hold her. It was magical despite the breathing tubes, the IVs, the wires. We even tried breastfeeding though my milk had yet to arrive. I had to have a blood transfusion because I hemorrhaged during the c-section, so I didn't get to see her for the rest of the day. That was the hardest day yet.
Every day our little girl got stronger. Every day we made progress. By the third day, we knew she was going to be okay. The infection in my amniotic fluid (chorio) and the ghastly amounts of meconium she inhaled didn't get her down. Much to the doctor's amazement, she fought through it and is now so healthy and strong.

After five days, we finally got to go home. She's taken so well to breastfeeding despite our separation and having been fed lots of formula her first few days of life. We fall more in love with her every day, and we are so crazy thankful for our little miracle. God is truly the author and giver of life. Though our birth went nothing according to our plan, it was comforting to know nothing happened outside of His knowledge and wisdom.

Thanks to everyone's love and amazing support! Sawyer Marie is a very strong, very loved little lady.

58 comments:

Kalen said...

So so happy to hear she's home and healthy and you two are settling in! Thanks so much for sharing this crazy action packed birth story! Hope your recovery is going well too, and keep those adorable baby pictures coming!

Emily said...

I'm glad you shared this story! Further proof that A) God is a pretty cool dude with the whole answering prayers thing and B) Sawyer already takes after her mother by being such a brave lady. What a beautiful girl! Congratulations!

Jay T said...

I have been waiting for you to post this!! I can't imagine how difficult that must have been, but you put it into words so beautifully. I am so happy for all three of you! God is good. She is SO beautiful. I hope you recover well, and quickly!

Tinamia said...

Holy cow. An incredible story with the most marvelous ending. You are so strong and so blessed to have the stronghold you have and now a beautiful baby girl. Congrats to you and your family!

Brianna said...

Such an amazing little girl! She's just precious! It's absolutely heartbreaking to hear of the horrific way y'all became parents, but I'm so unbelievably glad that there was a happy ending to this story! Y'all are a precious family of three, and it's amazing to hear she's doing so well! A fighter from the get go!

jessica said...

First off, congratulations!! Second, I'm sitting here tying not to cry like a crazy woman at work. Our daughter came into the world the exact same way. Sudden c-section, meconium, NICU for 5 days...I know exactly how it feels and I'm just so happy for y'all that she's a perfectly healthy little girl. This is such an amazing time in your lives! <3

Heather @ Heathers Hurrah said...

Congratulations on your beautiful daughter! That sounds like a very traumatic experience...I am so happy for you all that she is doing so well now. Thank you for sharing your story and enjoy all of your baby snuggles!!! xo

Erin LFF said...

Oh I'm totally crying in my office over my lunch right now. SUCH an incredible story, despite all the ups and downs you have THE most perfect little girl ever and I couldn't be happier for all of you!!

Kalyn V said...

I keep trying to think of things to say but I can't find the tight words. This is a beautiful, albeit scary, story but it shoes how tough little miss Sawyer really is. She is so beautiful, and I think she looks like you!

Katie Did What said...

Oh, Jena, you had me in tears!! Thank you for sharing your story. It's beautiful because it's all exactly how it was meant to be, and look at her now! She is a perfect little angel baby :) Of course, even when writing out the worst thing you've ever experienced, you still managed to make me laugh- "I looked like a 15-year-old cheerleader." Love you and love your spirit, and I'm so happy that you have your baby girl with you now. <3

xo

Kaity said...

Oh my goodness- that's such a scary story! I'm so sorry your labor and delivery was so hard :( But I am so, so happy that little Sawyer is safe and sound <3

Jennifer Dunn said...

this made me cry and laugh at the same time. i'm so sorry for what you had to go through but i am so happy your little girl is happy and healthy. she is beautiful and i know it was worth it all. thank you for sharing your story with us. it makes me scared but excited in a way to have my own this august :) congrats again <3

Genna said...

Oh Jena. This story tugged at my every heart string. When I saw your first Instagram I just prayed and prayed! I am so glad she is healthy and those beautiful big eyes are gorgeous :)

Kim Matheson said...

Good grief, lady! I am so sorry you (and Grahm) had such a stressful ordeal. Ugh. I'm so glad that everyone's safe, happy and healthy (and you are not even close to a failure. You got that beautiful little baby out, you faced incredible heartache with grace and you love that tiny miracle fiercely. That's a huge success).

She is enchanting. :) Congratulations Momma, you did it! :)

Jenna said...

Wow! What a terrifying emotional roller coaster you must have been on. I'm so so happy she is healthy and home with her mama and papa now. She is absolutely beautiful Jena - congratulations :)

Brandi said...

She is so darling!! Congratulations on your baby girl!! Thank you for sharing your birth story and I am so sorry it didn't go smoothly for you but you are all a family now!!

Lauren said...

oh my goodness...my heart is racing as I read this and remember all too well the frantic feeling of being rushed into the surgical room for a c-section.

Praise God for such a beautiful daughter, I know you & Sawyer have some amazing times ahead!

A Thousand Words said...

How scary! Congratulations Momma, way to hang in there for your baby girl! She is beautiful!

Pamela said...

Wow! You are one strong lady! You did a fabulous job! She's beautiful!

shaeken said...

She is so beautiful! Congratulations! I cannot even imagine all you went through...praise Jesus you're both doing so well now!

Amy said...

what a glorious story and i read every word!
this right here "I looked like a 15-year-old cheerleader. But I was ready." GOLD i could not stop laughing.
also - tears.
with the c-section, grahm crying, no cries from sweet sawyer, hemorrhaging, blood transfusions, etc ahh i couldn't stop crying!

she is beautiful, healthy, and strong. jena - i am so delighted for you and grahm.

praise the Lord for sawyer!

Erin said...

Oh the tears! What a beautiful outcome to such a scary story. I'm so glad she's home and everyone's together finally. What a cute little fighter you have on your hands. Congratulations again :)

Danielle said...

So glad she is home and healthy! (And beautiful!) So sorry about your back labor. My mother-in-law experienced that and said it was the worst pain she's ever known (and she had 5 children!). Right now my little guy is sunny side up, but we're hoping he decides to turn on his own before the big day.

Congratulations! Your birth story is beautiful even though things didn't go quite as planned.

Melissa said...

So happy to hear your birth story, very similiar to mine, minus the c-section Hadley was also in NICU for 8 days and i had a fever and had the same Chorio infection! Such a scary time for everyone! I am so happy to hear she is healthy and happy! Hope you are recovering well from your C-section! Enjoy that sweet baby! They are the best gift you can get! :)

Melissa said...

Such an emotional story but has a wonderful ending! Apparently after a month postpartum, I'm still not prepared to read a birth story as it left me bawling. I'm so happy for you!!!

Diana Me'chelle said...

i loved reading about sawyer's birth story! she's beautiful! thank you so much for sharing! <3

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing! I'm so so glad she is a healthy and happy baby girl! It was such an emotional birth story but she is perfect and adorable :) Enjoy rocking and cuddling and smothering her with kisses!

Kelsey Eaton said...

Holy moly girlfriend! You had me laughing my head off and then completely in tears. What a whirlwind of an experience. Were you both in the hospital 5 days? So glad everything turned out ok.

Amanda said...

You will appreciate the fact that I think this was written SO WELL. Seriously, you had me literally on the edge of my seat on this couch! I felt like I couldn't read fast enough even though I knew what the end result was. What a terrifying and amazing story. Congratulations to you both!

Lindsey said...

It's crazy how we get so set on how we want our labor and deliveries to go, yet they hardly ever go as planned, and afterwards we don't even care as long as our baby is okay. Congrats on the beautiful baby girl. <3

Lindsey said...

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that my water broke 15 minutes after we finally hung Liam's curtains! Crazy, lol!

Katie said...

....And I am bawling. What an amazingly beautiful little girl you have. God must have some big things in store for her!

Emma James said...

Your story has me in tears, even though I have no idea what any of that would feel like... I am so thankful for Sawyer's health & so happy that God has blessed you and Grahm with such an incredible joy!

Ashley Robyn said...

Thank you for sharing this journey with us friend. I can't imagine those agonizing moments, minutes, and hours that you had to be away from her. So thankful you are home safely and she is enjoying her new life.

Kayla MKOY said...

Ommggg, I'm a blubber ball. Seriously crying right now. Jena, thank you so much for sharing this. I am so happy that it was so long, and so detailed....you are going to treasure this FOREVER!!!! I am so incredibly happy for you and your new family!! :) she is GORGEOUS!

Lauren @ One Sweet Fairytale said...

i've been following for over a month or 2 now but this is the first time i have commented. i'm so glad that baby girl is finally here safely, even with all the craziness y'all had to go through. she's beautiful and just focus on soaking up your happy time with her :) <3 <3 <3
xoxo, lauren
1sweetfairytale.blogspot.com

Elizabeth Than said...

I'm so happy for all of you that your little fighter is all healthy! Congrats and welcome home!

Gig-ee said...

Been anxiously looking for this post. Thanks for sharing and God bless your little miracle!

Kelsey Lenay said...

Such an emotional story but I am so very happy for you and your family! You and Grahm stayed strong for your little one and the outcome is just amazing and sweet! She is absolutely gorgeous Jena!

Courtney Carlton said...

Jena - your sweet story made me cry! SO GRATEFUL Sawyer is healthy and well and that you're doing good too. God is so good and even though your birth plan was nothing like you envisioned, all that matters is that at the end of the day she is in your arms now. I can't begin to imagine what those first few days were like... you're a strong momma, sister! Congratulations on your beautiful girl... enjoy all of this glorious time with her, it goes by so fast.

Sydney Eyrich said...

This was beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Laura @ Liverunsparkle.com said...

I can't imagine how you guys must have been feeling through the first couple days of her being here. I'm so sorry her birth was so dramatic, but I'm so glad to hear that she's home and healthy now. Congrats! :)

Katie said...

Im' so glad to hear your little girl is doing so well. I was also told that they had to turn off my epidural because I "wasn't" pushing hard enough...psh I will NEVER let them do that to me again! I was pushing plenty hard, thank you very much.

Nicole said...

Oh I am just in tears reading this...I can't even imagine going through all of that. My epidural stopped working and I felt everything from about 7 cm on, so I feel your pain :) Looking back now, I'm glad I could feel when I was ready to push. I'm so glad everything went well. God was definitely watching over all of you and the doctors.

Ashley @ ThisUnscriptedLife said...

I can not stop the tears! Wow. Sawyer has a scary but amazing story. She is beautiful. I'm glad you are both doing well =)

Mariah Rickard said...

I started as laughing and ended in tears! So happy your little family is healthy! My prayers are out to you and Sawyer!

Mariah Rickard said...

I started as laughing and ended in tears! So happy your little family is healthy! My prayers are out to you and Sawyer!

J and A said...

This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Urg my heart. I had a Csection 4 months ago and it was scary enough. I'm so sorry you had to go through that! She is a fighter!!

Ashley said...

Jena!!!! Baby Sawyer is amazing and beautiful...just like her momma. What a scary but amazing story. I'm so proud of you! So glad she is doing well (and I hope you are, too!)

Victoria Mather said...

Oh my goodness Jena, I am still crying typing this message. I'm so glad she is healthy and you are safe. Just know there is love from this one stranger, a girl in Canada who loved every word of this post and is praying for your family. Can't wait to follow your life some more!

Victoria

Jena said...

Holy smokes! My Paisley was also sunny side up; while I didn't have back labor I thought my vagina was splitting in half.. holy crap, I never want to do that again.

I'm so glad baby Sawyer is doing well!

Alyx said...

Man! Elsie was sunny side up and I had really intense back labor as well, it was awful! I feel for ya. I only ever dilated to a one after laboring for 14 hours, so they wheeled me off to a c-section, as well. I just want to say that, even though you are both happy and healthy, I know how much a c-section can suck if you were wanting to go the natural route. I still have a lot of bitterness and anger about the way my birth went, and it's been almost 9 months. So... I guess if you ever need to vent or express disappointment, feel free to message me. I know that might sound weird coming from a lurker who has rarely (if ever) commented on your blog, but there ya go.
And... you are amazing - you brought that little miracle into the world and are caring for her every need. That's a pretty awesome accomplishment.

PraisingMyCreater said...

Thanks for sharing this! Tears came while reading your story! So real and so miraculous.

Ann Willoughby Kaplan said...

I was beginning to worry! So happy to read that all is now okay, Jena! Y'all did good!

CoastWithMe said...

Oh, Jena...all I have to say is thank god you and baby Sawyer are healthy and well. It looks like your peaceful little warrior takes after her warrior mama! What a birthing story! So sorry to hear about everything you guys went through...i'm just so glad it all turned out okay in the end and you can finally cuddle and kiss the crap out of her:)! She is ADORABLE!!!! P.S. Red heads are so special!

Maxine Elizabeth said...

Her face... I mean.... it stole my heart!!! How adorable is she?! I'm so happy she's healthy and home with you and your husband. Can't wait to see more pictures and stories about having a baby girl around :-) God is good!

Julie @ Just the Joy's said...

Oh good golly, this story had me laughing, crying, cringing, shaking, and smiling all at the same time! Bless your heart for going through everything you did! I can't even imagine the feelings you were going through! So happy that little Sawyer is doing well also! What a beautiful miracle baby!!! <3

Jamie K. said...

Jena- thanks for sharing your story. It brought tears to my eyes just thinking of this experience for yall. I am not a mother yet, but I hope to be one day and although this scared me and it also brings joy that miracles happen every day! I was a miracle baby myself so it's a close to home moment. Sawyer will appreciate your story one day too! She's SO adorable!!