Not all birth stories go according to plan. Ours was long, unpredictable, and in the final pivotal moments, dangerous and scary. If you’re sensitive to these types of stories, read with caution.
Jordan’s Birth Story.
A story of waiting, begging, waiting, pleading, birth, begging and then, alas, life.
I had an appointment thursday and my midwife, Chris, swept my membranes and checked me. 4 cm. I walked out of there with the eye of the tiger playing in my head. Let’s do this thing. I spent the day willing myself into labor, walking the kids to and from Dance class, bouncing on the birth ball, and taking the stairs two at a time. I went to bed with a prayer on my lips, “Please God, bring my baby to me soon.”
I woke up around 3 am with contractions. The, “wait a minute, was that a real one?” kind. I stayed up for a couple hours timing them and went downstairs to move around and see what happened. Around 5, I was pretty sure it was going to be baby day and decided to rest for a couple of hours. We did the morning routine with the kids and Jordan even left for a work meeting, telling me to give him a heads up when it’s time to come home. The thing is, these contractions were really confusing. They followed a weird pattern of “up…up…and away!”. The two “up” contractions were mild and only lasting about 30 seconds and then the big one came. It was hard to time them and easy to talk myself out of believing I was in labor. Either way, when the big ones hit, it gave me enough confidence to call Jordan home and start packing up the kids and start making our way closer to the hospital. In Hebron, at Dale and Lisa’s house, the kids were playing around, Jordan was in a virtual meeting for work, and I was on the exercise ball, trying to decide what the plan should be. I told Angela, my doula, what was going on, and then called my midwife. I told her how weird the contractions were and how long they were going on and asked her how much cervical change she would need to see before she admitted me and broke my water so we could get this show on the road. We made plans to meet at the hospital at 1:45.
We kissed the kiddos goodbye, with extra long hugs, and tears in our eyes. Loaded up the van and hit the bumpy road on route 12 to get to the hospital.
The first hour at the hospital was spent putting on that giant gown, and answering Nurse Sheela’s 101 questions. I’m pretty sure she did my taxes and had enough personal information left over to write my E! True HollyWood Story.
Finally, Chris came, checked me (5 cm!) and broke my water bag around 3. That part is always gross to me. I don’t like being wet and once your water breaks in labor, you just stay wet until it’s all over. (Spoiler alert: that would be a really long time from this point.)
I had major expectations that it would get so “real” at this point. That my contractions would come in like waves and sweep me into this current that would lead to a powerful and fast transition and those last 5 cm would just melt way. Melt.
I did some walking and bouncing on the birth ball and some pumping but the contractions were still weird and almost felt weak. See, this wasn’t my first rodeo. The contractions definitely hurt, but not “it’s time” hurt. Just enough to wear me out and frustrate me. 6 o’clock came and Chris checked me again. I was at a 6. After 3 hours, I had progressed one whole cm. I shot Ang a look. She knew what I was thinking, but that didn’t stop me from telling them. “Really? Really.” “Yes”, she said, “it doesn’t mean that it will take 3 hours for each cm, don’t let it disappoint you.” Easier said than done, but actually exactly the reason I was glad to have a midwife. She was totally relaxed and patient. If she was even a bit frustrated, she didn’t show it at all. I didn’t feel any pressure to perform for her.
Even still, I was acutely aware that my Doula had an 11 week old at home and he was sucking down bottles quickly, and my family was in a waiting room down the hall and I was progressing in slow motion, and now, I was mad. Pissed. I ripped off my stupid hospital gown made for giants, put my dress back on and I started marching down the halls, lunging up onto the benches at each end, pumping for 15 minutes and dutifully pausing during each weird contraction to relax and focus all of that energy down; blooming roses and all things open my only imagery. I did a great job of exhausting and discouraging myself, and I needed to rest. I went to the hospital bed in a sitting up position and that’s when I noticed the baby moving. A lot. The contractions were getting much stronger and in between them, when I really wanted to rest, the baby was kicking and flipping and flopping. I was so sore from contracting that each kick felt almost as painful as a contraction and it sent me into a panic.
I began to beg Ang and Jordan. “Guys, this isn’t right. I can’t do this. I’m tired. I can’t relax, these contractions won’t work if I can’t relax. Please. Get me something. Anything to take the edge off. I don’t mean an epidural, just something. Isn’t there something to just give me a break?” They weren’t impressed with my begging. This wasn’t their first rodeo with me. I focus on Angela. If I can break her, Jordan will follow her lead. She just had a baby and the pain is still fresh in her mind. I cue the theatrics. I was desperate and abandoned any filter I had left. “Ang, I’m going to have nightmares about this the rest of my life. You know it’s true. I’m ruined, Ang, please.” Nothing. And then, another contraction would hit. Forcing those moaning sounds out of me that would end in a whimper. I had made it through another, but I knew one would come again soon.
I reason with them, because at this point, I’m so reasonable. “Alright, fine, let’s do a few more laps, and then have Chris check me. If I haven’t progressed, we’ll get something, anything to take the edge off.” (Hey Darla, like what? Like tylenol? You’re dealing with labor pains, not a headache.) At 8 something they went and got her and I told her my plan and she agreed. As if she had any of this miracle medicine that was all natural and would simply ‘take the edge off’ of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was 8 cm. I knew what that meant. No pain meds for me. No help for me. I just had to wait. Excruciatingly painful contractions, wildly painful movements between them, and it was about to get very much worse. And I was taking them all down with me. I was so pissed. I couldn’t believe it was happening this way. How, with my 3rd child, after arriving to the hospital at a 5 I had barely progressed 3 cm over the course of 3 hours was just more than I could….and here comes another one…
Now I was screaming. Gnashing teeth. Swearing and just begging. I actually had this thought, “That’s IT! I am LEAVING! I’m NOT doing this. I will get up, and walk RIGHT out that door! Wait…I’d have to take my body with me and my body hurts. So, that won’t work.” And it would happen again. Between, I began to wimper, the only suitable sound for a bird as wounded as I was, “Please, please, please.” Only this time, I was begging God to have mercy on his girl. I was begging my baby to come to me. Please. How much more could I take before I die from pain and exhaustion? Please Baby, we can do this, I just want to hold you. “Please come to me,” I begged them both in a whisper with hot tears in my eyes. It may sound dramatic, but in this moment, it was as real as I could be. Please, let this end God, before I wither away and successfully crawl out of my skin.
I had to pee. That triggered fear and anger in me because I’d have to get up and then I would have really bad contractions and then I’d sit on a toilet, which I knew would give me even worse contractions. Logic would tell me that was a good thing because contractions bring babies and worse contractions bring babies quickly. But I spewed all logic out of me hours ago and now I believed to my core that this was my life now. This agony is how I would carry out all of my days until the end of time. I was a real peach, as you could imagine.
It went just as I knew it would, painfully, and then I felt it. Natural birth mama’s, you know what I mean. That pressure. The growl that came against my will and with my next breath I screamed, “GET CHRIS”
Jordan walked me back to the bed. Holding me up. The calm before the storm. Angela suggested hands and knees on the bed, “I think you’ll like it.” “I’m not going to like it.” I sneered, in my best “7-year-old-brat” impression. Again, a darling peach was I. I bet they just wanted to pinch my cheeks. But they couldn’t because it was time. The room filled, all the blue plastic stuff and shiny metal things came out. All these nurses came in, but I didn’t see their faces. “See!”, Angela said in a nurturing excited voice, “They’re getting the room ready, you’re going to meet your baby!” I still doubted her as the bright stage lights were flicked on. I turned over and during my next contraction, Christ checked me. “No you are not!”, I yelled. She said, “9 and 1/2…..10!” stretching me that last 1/2 centimeter by hand. Thank God for Chris. I love/hated her for that, because now, finally, it was time.
I was aware of the buzz of energy in the room, and as I felt the next wave of pain, I knew to push. I felt the pressure, and I pushed some more until I felt that first partial release. After the head was delivered I tried to push more, waiting for that familiar wave of release, for the rest of the body to come out. Nothing. I pushed some more between panicked screaming breaths. Neonatal was called. The tension in the room rose. I couldn’t see Jordan with my eyes closed, but I could feel his fear. Everyone began to raise their voices now to urge me to push more, to curl my body over my belly and force every ounce of myself down. “Chris, I’m at 60.”, a nurse said. Oh no, I knew that meant the heart rate, which was normally 134. “You have to push NOW!” I gave it all I had left. My screaming finally stopped so I could focus that energy on the task at hand. “Push! Push! Come on, PUSH!” Every voice in the room seemed to beg me in unison. Still, I felt the pain and no release. Like I was pushing into a brick wall. “Please, I need a break.” “You can’t have a break. You have to push your baby out now.” Her voice was urgent, emergent, and made it clear that there wasn’t time for questions.
The baby’s head was dark dark blue and stuck at the neck. Then they pulled my knees up to my ears and nurses climbed on top of me and began pushing down on my belly to push the baby from the outside. Somewhere, amidst the hustle and noise, Jordan asked Angela, “Is it going to be ok?” But at this point, no one could know. I pushed again and begged God meet me where my strength ended and carry me the rest of the way. I simply had nothing more than all the feeble strength I could muster and then, he was out. They flopped his purple body on my stomach, I reached down and to touch the head, and saw the lips twitch once before the chord was cut and he was whisked away.
I had never heard such silent silence in a noisy room. Everything was blaring, the diligent nursing staff, the voice of my midwife, Jordan’s and my desperate prayers, the machines, the lights, everything at full volume…except one very crucial sound. In place of the newborn cry I had been longing for for 9 months, I heard and felt it’s piercing absence. First APGAR score, 2.
“This happens to people“, I thought to myself as I felt Jordan cover me with his body as prayers sobbed from his lips, “people lose babies. This could happen to us.” “God help us” I cried out loud. Again, the words I had been screaming in labor came even more desperately through my lips, “Please, please, please.” Jordan and I begged in unison, “Please, God, save our baby. Please!” after a few eternal minutes, we heard the cry. “Is it ok?” We must have asked and been answered 100 times before we began to believe them. “It’s a Boy!”, someone announced to us. “He’s Okay!
Jordan and I let out cries of relief, gratitude, and joy. He went to go meet our new baby boy and I breathed for what felt like the first time in years. Then, they brought me our baby and tucked him under my blanket. I don’t know if I spoke in that moment. I think I just used all of my senses to feel the life that was once inside of me, now safely in my arms. There is no feeling more profound.
Jordan and I exchanged looks to decide his name and we agreed. Jordan Joseph Innis. Our little Joey.
It was a two minute shoulder dystocia. Basically, his head came out turned at an odd angle and then, instead of one shoulder coming out at a time, they were both stuck on my pelvic bone. I’m thankful that Jordan and Angela didn’t cave to my pleas for meds. I needed to be fully present, mentally and physically while I pushed. The fast acting nurses climbed on top of me to press his shoulders together from the outside (typically, it is to break them to get them through, but his were fine), while my midwife stretched me as much as she could and pulled him out. It was 10:23 when he was finally born (over 19 hours after labor had started) and much later when he was finally alive, well, and nursing and I had delivered the placenta and had my 2nd degree tear stitched up (have I mentioned yet, how darling I am when I’m in pain?). Hospital policy was that no visitors are allowed until two hours after everything is said and done, but it was so late already we asked to be the exception. We let Angela go home, her work was done, and done so diligently, and then Jordan went to get our crew.
Everyone has their own policy with family and visitors with a new baby. Ours is, yes. It is tradition for us to have a waiting room full of eager loved ones waiting for the wonderful news and coming in at once to meet the new bundle. The added bonus this time, was that they didn’t know the sex of the baby either. Needless to say, the suspense was killing them.
From what I’ve been told, Jordan went in and told them first that everything was ok, but they all read his emotions. He walked over to his Dad and hugged him saying, “I need you..”, his words giving way to tears that said more than words could touch. They gathered together and made their way down the hushed halls. When they had all filed into the room, our big kids in front, we introduced them to our son. Gratitude, joy, and wonder, fear, relief and grace. It was written on our faces as we exchanged knowing glances with tear welled eyes. He’s here. He almost didn’t make it, and yet, here he is, as perfect as can be. Come and meet this little one we’ve all waited for.
We’re a family of five now. Complete in a way we didn’t expect to be until we were all together, our arms overflowing with these little gifts.
“So let go, my soul, and trust in Him. The waves and wind still know His name.”
Welcome to this wild world, Joey. Your every breath, a gift. The beat of your heart, a miracle. You are known and covered by a loving and merciful God and we are thrilled to wrap you up in our undeserving arms and call you ours.