Exactly one year ago today, Nick and I welcomed our son, Ethan Nicholas, into the world. I cannot believe how fast a year flew by! It is true what they say, the days are long, but the months are short. We are overwhelmed with the love we have for Ethan. The days (and let’s be real, the nights too!) come with a new set of challenges, but Ethan really has been a good baby. He is a happy and healthy boy and we are humbled that God chose us to be his parents.
It was quite the journey getting him here safely and we are very, very thankful for how God intervened. I love seeing God’s personal touches woven throughout Ethan’s birth story and it is finally time to share. Even though it was the toughest thing I have ever endured physically, I’d do it again for him.
So without further ado, here is Ethan’s Birth Story:
On October 11th, early labor began. I noticed first thing in the morning I lost my mucus plug and had very light cramping. Nick stayed home with me that day and we just spent time resting and watching TV. We knew Ethan would be arriving within the next day or two. According to the doctors, I was 41weeks and 1 day (due October 3rd), but I just new all along he would be a middle of the month baby.
The morning of October 12th, a more intense cramping woke me up at 1am. I was able to go back to sleep and rest some more, until the cramping woke me up consistently. I started timing at 3am. For the next hour I was having painful cramping for over a minute and it was coming back around every four and half minutes. I was nervous to think this could actually be contractions because of how similar everything felt to intense menstrual cramping. I reached out to my doula immediately and she confirmed they were indeed contractions. She suggested a warm bath and to keep timing. At that point, I was starving. I woke Nick, filled him in, and immediately asked for some peanut butter toast. He jumped up, made the toast and as I was sitting in the tub he was excitedly getting ready. I was in pain, but I still remember seeing the joy on his face. Around 4:30am, we called into the doctors office to speak with the midwife on call and she too confirmed, I was in labor and could go to the hospital whenever ready. Between 6am and 7am, we decided to head to the hospital. Our doula was not far behind. Once we got to the hospital, check-in was quick and easy. I was taken to an intermediary room and immediately hooked up to a monitor. I was definitely in labor and the nurse’s best guess as to dilation, 4cm. After a visit from the midwife, we were checked into a room in the labor and delivery wing. Little did we know how long of a day and night were ahead…
I spent the first 17 hours in natural labor. I felt very strong about making it as far as I could before requesting, actually pleading, for pain medicine. We spent the 17 hours walking laps around the hallway, napping on and off, utilizing the birthing ball, standing in the shower letting the warm water just run (looking back, this was the most relaxing and best part of natural labor even though labor was really progressing in there), and laboring in the birthing tub (by far my least favorite of places to be). The great thing about having a doula, is she constantly encouraged and cheered Nick and I on. She was there to support us during the exact moment we were in, exactly the way we needed it. On top of that, she is a prayer warrior and was constantly covering us in prayer.
*I’d like to take a minute to mention and HIGHLY recommend our doula, Jamilla Walker, founder of The Labor Ladies. The Labor Ladies is a Christian-based company to help educate moms on the birthing experience through classes, assist in writing out birth plans, providing delivery room support, lactation assistance, birth photography, tub rentals, and so much more. We could not have been more prepared, more prayed over, and more loved and encouraged. It was extremely helpful for Nick too. He had someone to talk to and ask questions to, since I was certainly in no position to have any of those conversations. Jamilla was an advocate for us and made sure we did everything we could to deliver Ethan safely.*
Now let me pick up where I left off. Once I made it into the birthing tub, the contractions were so much stronger and on the verge of unbearable. I was begging for pain medicine. I decided to let the midwife check me. My previous experience was so unpleasant and painful, I was hesitant to have it done again. The decision we made, if I was at 10cm, I would suck it up and power through. If I still had time, an epidural would be ordered. To my surprise, I was only 6cm and 90% effaced. Now to some people that kind of news would not be good because it had already been 18 hours of natural labor. But for me, I sighed in relief and got my butt out of tub to get ready for an epidural. It was probably the fastest I moved my entire pregnancy! I was finally about to get some much needed rest and relief from the pain. At our hospital, the birthing tub has to be drained, broken down, and out of the room before the anesthesiologist comes in. Normally it takes 30 minutes, but Jamilla and the nurses cleaned it up and got it out of the room in 10 minutes. Praise the Lord! Once I got the epidural, it kicked in immediately and I fell right to sleep. During this time, Nick was able to rest too. We were just in waiting mode now.
An hour or two later, I woke up to pressure and the nurse checked me again and I was at 10cm. It was pushing time! I pushed, and I pushed, and I pushed. For 3 hours total I pushed and no baby. My epidural was unique. I still had feeling in my legs, just minus the pain. So, I was able to push in multiple positions. It started in the usual way, feet up. Then we added in a squat bar with my feet pressing into it while still laying down. Still nothing. We took a pause and made the decision to break my water because the water sack was +2 station and the babies head at 0 station. As soon as she broke my water, his head slid to +2. I started pushing again. They brought in a mirror to use for a visual. Personally, I had no interest in seeing any of that, but I will say it was motivating and encouraging to see his head and how close he really was. Still no baby. The nurses even helped me onto all fours and we tried in that position for a while. Three hours of pushing is a long time and I was exhausted. We decided to take a break and I decided on a nap before round two.
I’m not really sure how much time passed during my nap, but I woke up to my midwife telling me she didn’t like how low his heart rate was going during contractions and I needed to get into another position to push. I did just that, but by this time, my energy was all used up. I’m sitting on the bed all strapped up with monitors, an oxygen mask on my face, and our midwife informs us she spoke to the doctor on call. I had two options, she could inject fluid vaginally to try to get him to move or have a C-section. There was so much going on in our room at that time, I asked for a few minutes alone with Jamilla and Nick to discuss the options. I remember looking at both of them saying I would try harder if we went the fluid route. Nick looked at me with tears in his eyes and said I did a great job and it was time for the C-section. I was surprised when both Nick and Jamilla were in favor of the C-section. I thought surely they would want to exhaust every option. With nothing left in me, I took the oxygen mask off my face, chose not to push back, and agreed to the C-section. What I remember most in this moment is not the nurses bustling to get everything set up, or the doctor coming in to tell me the risks, or signing papers to move forward. It was my husband telling me he was so proud of me and that I did absolutely everything I could do. He had been beside me every step of this very long journey and I could not have loved him more in that moment. Jamilla reminded me when a labor goes this long (we were on 26 hours at this point) and ends in a C-section, there is always a reason. Sure enough, there was.
As I was wheeled off to the OR, Nick was getting ready. More pain medicine was injected and the numbing occurred. What I didn’t know is how bad the pain medicine was going to make me shake. It felt like uncontrollable convulsing. Nick came in to sit at my head and all I could say was, “I’m ok. I’m ok. Just rub my biceps.” I know he was freaked out at how bad I was shaking, but he massaged my biceps to try to help keep me calm. It was a lot for both of us.
The doctor got in there quickly and the procedure began. She noticed right away he was turned sideways and that his right shoulder was stuck at my pubic bone. There was no way he could make it out vaginally turned in that direction. Ethan’s head was lodged in the birth canal tightly and lets just say it had to make its way back in. After being pushed back in, Ethan curled himself all the way to the upper right side of my body, under my ribs, which in turn made me toss my cookies. As if I hadn’t been through enough already! The doctor was not a happy camper with him. She reached in, grabbed his butt, and pulled him out by the legs. One unique thing the hospital has is a double drape hanging during the C-section. The solid drape covers the view during the procedure, but the clear drape is so the mother and father can have a similar experience to a vaginal delivery. Just my luck, the solid drape fell over my face and I saw nothing. It ended up being a blessing in disguise because when Ethan was handed to the midwife, he was completely limp. When Ethan was lodged in the birth canal he released meconium. He was a lifeless baby, and rushed to the NICU team in the other room. In the little consciousness I had left, I knew I had not heard Ethan cry, but then all of a sudden he started wailing. It was the beautiful sound of our baby. The NICU team sucked the meconium out of his mouth and nose and then had to bag him to help him take his first breath. Once they checked him out to make sure everything was ok, Nick was able to hold him and give him skin-to-skin, as I was being sewn back up and taken to recovery. What some would see as a devastating turn of events, Nick and I have chosen to look at as a blessing. If Ethan was born breathing and inhaled meconium, there could have been serious damage to his lungs and a prolonged stay in the NICU.
Praise the Lord our timing isn’t God’s timing. We had a beautiful and healthy baby boy, Ethan Nicholas, delivered to us after 27 hours of labor on 10-13-16 at 5:17am. He weighed 6lbs 15.8oz and 21 1/14 in long. He had blonde hair and blue eyes and looks like his mommy.
We were in love with him then and we are in love with him now.
To our sweet boy, happy 1st birthday! I hope you one day read this and understand that God has a plan and a purpose for your life. The enemy fought hard to keep you away, but God won by delivering you here safely and with a testimony from minute one of your life! You are destined to do great things. Your life has meaning and purpose and daddy and I will make sure we help you discover it.
All my love, bug.