They say time flies when you have a little one, and it’s definitely true in our case! While some days have seemed (REALLY) long, I cannot believe it has already been 6 weeks that we’ve had little Jack with us! It seems like a blur, and a lot of that is probably because of sleep deprivation, ha! But, I think it’s about time that I share Jack's birth story! Technically I didn’t go into active labor until 39 weeks, but I would say our birth & 'labor’ story started when I was 34 weeks and went into preterm labor!
34 Weeks Pregnant
We were at Claytor Lake enjoying the 4th of July weekend festivities with Robert’s family, and on July 2nd at about 1am, I realized I hadn’t fallen asleep because I was having contractions. I was 34 weeks pregnant and had been having braxton hicks contractions for several weeks. The contractions I was feeling that night, though, were different. They were coming at regular intervals and were more uncomfortable. I rolled over in bed, grabbed my phone, and started timing them. When I realized they were 9-10 minutes apart, I woke up Robert and told him we probably needed to head back into Roanoke to at least be closer to our hospital in case this was the ‘real deal’! We quickly and quietly packed up our car (with our poor Ellie girl who had no idea WHY we were up at 1am and getting in the car— she had a big day of swimming and was exhausted ;) ) and then we got on the road. I didn’t want to wake anyone just in case I was crazy and this was a false alarm, but my gut told me we needed to at least be closer to our doctor and our hospital! I timed my contractions all the way home, and they were getting closer and closer together. We got home, unloaded a few things, and I took a quick shower and then laid down to see if they would stop. After about 30 minutes of contractions 4-5 minutes apart we decided that it was time to head to the ER. So at 4am, we grabbed my hospital bag (that was only sort of packed) and drove to the hospital!
They put me in a wheelchair and took me straight up to triage on the labor and delivery floor. After a few minutes my doctor came in (we were so grateful she was the one on call that night!!) and checked everything. I WAS having contractions 3-4 minutes apart (I was relieved I wasn’t going crazy but also scared!), and I was 1cm dilated. She told me that I was in preterm labor, but that they wouldn’t really start worrying unless I dilated more in the next couple of hours. So, they left us there telling us they’d be back to check me in an hour or two. That was a LONG two hours. I told Robert I wasn’t prepared to have a baby that day and I wasn’t going to do it…no matter what the doctor said, ha! (Like that would be an option!) When my doctor came back in to check on me, I was still 1cm dilated (yay!!), but I was still having regular contractions. So, she told me that I would have to be on modified bedrest (either sitting on the couch or laying in bed) for 3 weeks (until I reached 37 weeks). She also told me that I needed a steroid shot for Jack’s lungs just in case he decided to come in the next week to give him a good shot at breathing on his own. Y’all…that shot was the most painful shot I’ve ever had (and I was pricking myself 4 times a day because of Gestational Diabetes! haha!), but I knew it was worth it for our little guy! She also told me I’d need to head into the office the next day for the second shot…apparently you have to have two in 24 hours. So, we went home…VERY relieved we didn’t have a baby with us, but super worried that he would come any day. We definitely weren’t ready!
The next week Robert got everything ready while I literally just watched! It was tough knowing there were so many things that needed to be done, but I had to just sit still on the couch. Once or twice I tried to do a few things, but my contractions would start again, and I REALLY didn’t want our little one to come early just because I was not following my doctor’s orders. So I sat... for 3 long weeks! (Side note: women who have to be on bedrest starting in the first or second trimester...y'all are rockstars! 3 weeks almost made me crazy...I cannot imagine 2-3 months or more!!) Every day I woke up preparing myself to have a baby, and every day he didn’t arrive. It was odd and mentally exhausting, BUT we were thankful that Jack was staying in there, because each day he stayed put (hopefully) meant he would have less complications when he was born!
Fast forward 3 weeks!
37 Weeks Pregnant
We had made it to the 37 week mark!! I was so excited to be able to take walks again, unload the dishwasher, drive, and do laundry! Ha! Annnd I was feeling super impatient! ;) I had been mentally preparing every day to have our sweet baby boy, and he still wasn’t here yet! We were READY! But, I tried my best to enjoy each day that we still had as a family of three (Robert, myself, and Ellie Mae ;) )
Fast forward 2 more weeks!
38 weeks and 5 days pregnant
On Wednesday night we had dinner, and I kind of felt ‘off’, but not feeling great was the norm those days. There were several nights that I would have regular contractions (10 min apart) and I thought FOR SURE I was going into labor…only to wake up the next day with no contractions. On Wednesday, though, Ellie Mae was acting different…she was EXTRA snuggly, so I laid on the floor with her and we snuggled for a couple of hours. I joked that maybe she knew this was our last ‘baby free’ night, because we had heard that sometimes pets can pick up on those kind of things. We went to bed that night, and I wasn't having any contractions! I mentally prepared myself to talk about induction the next day (Thursday) at my 11am doctor appointment. The doctors weren’t going to let me go past 40 weeks, because of my Gestational Diabetes.
38 weeks and 6 days pregnant
At 5:30am on Thursday, August 3rd, I got up and I felt a gush! Immediately I thought of every doctor appointment in the past two months and how they told me, "if you feel a gush or a trickle of water that won’t stop, you need to go to the hospital!” I honestly had not been expecting that AT ALL! Because I had been having lots of contractions over the past 5 weeks, I thought for sure they would eventually just get worse and that would be how I’d know I was in labor. But there I was with my water breaking, waking Robert up to tell him we needed to get ready to go! I called my mom to come pick up Ellie Mae, and we loaded up the car. By 6:30am we were on our way to the hospital and enjoying the most beautiful sunrise over the mountains :) (Another side note: Roanoke Memorial Hospital has to be one of the prettiest in the US because of our Blue Ridge Mountains!)
At around 7am we were in Labor & Delivery triage again (in the SAME bed/bay that I had been in 5 weeks prior! De ja vu!) They checked me to make sure my water had, in fact, broken (there was NO doubt in my mind, haha), and then the OB for that day came by to congratulate me and tell me that we wouldn't be leaving the hospital without a baby! :) I was 3 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced!
Once I was admitted, we met our sweet nurse Phaedra, and she helped us take all of our bags to my room! We looked like we were staying for a week! #overpackerproblems
I had already decided that I wanted to get an epidural (mamas who do all natural labor…you’re awesome! But I knew that wasn’t for me!) Phaedra told me that the anesthesiologist was booked solid that day with c-sections, so if I did want it, it would be smart to get it sooner rather than later. If I didn't get it soon, I could be waiting for several hours…like 4 or 5 hours…and in that amount of time, you can deliver a baby!!! So, I decided to go ahead an do it! I was having regular, painful contractions, so I didn’t feel like it was too early.
The epidural was probably the scariest most stressful part of my entire labor! I am not a fan of needles, and knowing what was going on back there (thank you, online birthing class :/) made me so nervous. BUT, Phaedra was wonderful and talked me through the whole thing while I concentrated on her and Robert! :) It actually wasn’t too bad at all, and within a few minutes my legs started feeling numb.
The doctors wanted me to labor on my own for a little bit to see if my dilation would progress naturally since my water broke. They told me that if I didn’t progress on my own within an hour or two, they would start me on pitocin since my water had broken, and there was a small risk for infection. At 10am they came in to check me, and I was still at 3cm, so we started the pitocin drip. I asked Phaedra lots of questions about how quickly I should be progressing, and she told us that it usually takes a while to go from early labor into active labor. They don’t consider it ‘active’ labor until you’re about 5-6 centimeters dilated. She said once I got into active labor things would probably go more quickly. So, we turned on HGTV and got comfortable! ;) They weren’t checking me super often, because they didn’t want to put me more at risk for infection since my water had broken.
At 1:30pm a doctor came in to check on me again…still 3cm, and I started to get a little bit nervous! I asked her how often they had to do c-sections if the pitocin wasn’t working. She told me that a c-section was a possibility but not to worry yet, because they would give me lots of time to try to dilate with the pitocin. So, we settled back in again.
Initially Robert and I had decided that we just wanted it to be us in the room for labor & delivery…but after being at the hospital for almost six and a half hours with no progress, we decided we wanted our parents to come in for a visit to pass the time!!
Sometime around 2pm Phaedra started noticing that Jack’s heart rate was dropping with each of my contractions (now about 2-3 minutes apart), so she came in to put me into a few different positions to try to help him out. After about an hour and 3 different positions, things still weren’t getting better. They told me I had lost too much water, and Jack was in distress (the umbilical cord was being compressed) during every contraction, so they were going to do an amniotic infusion (in other words, they pumped fluid back into the amniotic sack). I didn’t even know that was a thing, but within just a few minutes, Jack was doing better during the contractions! I asked if we could try some of the different laboring positions again just to see if we could get things moving. Phaedra and Robert helped me into a sitting position to see if gravity would help.
Also around this time I noticed that I was feeling a new kind of exhausted. We checked my blood sugar, and sure enough it was pretty low. At our hospital they allow you to have clear liquids during labor (chicken broth, jell-o, juice, etc.), and most of my liquids had been sugar free because of the Gestation Diabetes. I asked for some sugary stuff to give my body some energy, and as soon as I got that into my system, I felt like a new person! I think that may have been part of the problem as I was laboring…my body just didn’t have enough energy to do much. Also, Ensure drinks were a life saver…not my favorite taste, but they had carbs and protein, and I had at least 3 while I was in labor!
Still waiting and a little bit tired, but we're happy!
At around 5pm a doctor came in to check me again…I was at 4cm this time! So, we had progress, but things still weren’t moving along very quickly! They told me they’d be back in another 3-4 hours to check on me again.
Checking on my contractions :)
I found out that Phaedra’s shift was supposed to end at 3pm, but she had stayed on to take care of me and one other patient! So sweet! The L&D floor was packed that day…so packed that there wasn’t a single available room. So, they were a little bit short staffed, and Phaedra wanted things to calm down before she left me with another nurse. She was seriously THE BEST! At around 7pm she told me she was leaving, and I almost cried!! It’s amazing how you can develop a relationship with someone in just a day, but she had taken such good care of us, and I didn’t want her to leave. I wanted her to be there when Jack arrived, and I couldn't imagine someone else being there to help me through the rest of labor!
We met our next nurse, Becca, and she was super sweet! We quickly saw that she knew what she was doing, and we ended up really liking her, too! I was so relieved that I had another amazing nurse to help me through the rest of labor and delivery!
At 8:25pm they checked me again, and I was at 6cm!! YAY!! I was officially in active labor, and I wasn’t as worried about having to have a c-section (unless it was an emergency and Jack got stuck or something!) At this time we also met the new doctors that would (most likely) be delivering Jack! I had been in labor for over 14 hours at this point, so we were hoping we wouldn’t have to go through another shift change! ;)
I was really tired, so I tried to take a nap for a little while to regain some energy for Jack's delivery that I hoped would be coming later that evening. At around 9:30/45
(I was still dozing) Jack started kicking and moving around a TON! It felt like he was doing somersaults, and I was also feeling pressure on my tailbone. All of the sudden I heard his heart rate drop…for a good minute or so. Becca came rushing in to check on us, and by that time his heart rate was going back up, but she wanted to get the doctors in there to check on him. He had also moved so much that he had displaced the monitors, so we were no longer getting a good reading on his heart rate or my contractions. Becca told us they may need to place another monitor inside, but that we’d see how dilated I was before they did that.
At around 10:30pm the doctor came back in to check on me, and I was 9.5cm dilated!!! Phaedra wasn’t kidding when she said that things started to move more quickly once you got into active labor! We called our parents (who had left at around dinner time) to update them, and told them we’d probably have a baby here sooner rather than later! The doctor told me she’d be back in an hour or two to check me again, so we waited excitedly (but also trying not to get our hopes up, because the labor process had already taken SO long) and watched more HGTV! Ha! ;)
I started feeling a lot of pressure on my tailbone at around 11:30pm, so Becca called the doctor back in. I was 10 cm and ready to push!! Yay!! BUT I was also EXHAUSTED from being in labor for 17 hours, so I asked for more Jello and more Ensure to give me enough energy to push.
I am typically not a super calm person. If you know me, you know I’m a worrier and I get anxious about things, but I had an overwhelming sense of calm come over me when the doctor told me it was time to push. We were almost done…it was almost time to meet our little boy, and I just needed to concentrate and put every ounce of energy I had into getting him out. Becca coached me through pushing for the first several contractions, and after about 8 or 9 rounds, she called the doctor back in. About 3 more rounds of pushing and Jack was out!! All in all I only pushed for about 45 minutes…and I was SO thankful!
Jackson Beadling Powell
Born on August 4th at 12:29am
Daddy's First time holding Jack!
sweet baby boy
Looking back, I think it's pretty funny that the EASIEST part of my pregnancy was labor and delivery! A lot of that is thanks to the epidural, but I am so thankful that after so many health problems during my pregnancy that labor and delivery went smoothly, and we have a healthy little boy!
P.S. If you made it to this point, you deserve a medal! I'm pretty sure this is my longest blog post to date! ;)