So, I've been a little hesitant to share Rae's birth story publicly....but in the weeks before I had her, I seriously scoured the web for any and all birth stories I could find. I especially loved reading stories from people I actually knew (I'm talking about you Shannon, Leah, Caitlin, Kami, Zaundra, Jen, etc.....). So....I decided to share.
I was also fortunate enough to know an amazing photographer who offered to come capture Rae's birth story on film. The photo's are some of my favorite ever! So, I'll share a few of those as we go along too. (Just so you know: yes, these photo's are of me having a baby! Like, literally pushing a baby out of my body. They're all PG rated, Jalene was by my head the whole time. But still, you're warned.) If you want to see her post about the birth story, with more pictures, go here. (Also, I wrote out this out before getting the photo's back from Jalene, and as I went through this post adding images, I was so happy to see that she literally captured every single important moment and emotion that I remembered. There was nothing that she missed. I could not be more grateful to Jalene for these photo's, they're pretty special! Just wait, you'll see.)
I already typed up the story in a letter to Rae for a book that we are making her. So it's in the form of a letter to her. Also. It's long. Don't feel any obligation to read the whole thing. I don't know if I'd read the whole thing if it weren't my own story.
Here we go:
On Thursday, the 9th of August, I woke up at 7am for one of my hourly potty breaks. When I entered the bathroom, still half asleep, I noticed that it was raining from the ceiling! I shouted to your dad and raced to find the landlord’s phone number. As the phone was ringing, I noticed a deep pain coming from my abdomen and I could feel that my whole stomach was rock hard. Though I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for a few weeks, I knew these were different. We got everything situated with the leak in our ceiling, and then we focused the rest of our day on your arrival. We both hoped that this was the real deal, and we went on a long walk to help the contractions along. We walked hand in hand, talking about how this could be the day that we finally get to meet our little one and find out if you were a girl or boy! As cars drove past us, we talked about how our whole lives were changing, and how everyone around us was just going about their normal business. It was very surreal. At one point, during a contraction, I bent over to catch my breath and your dad lightly tickled my back to help me through it. As I was concentrating on breathing, I could hear the smile in his voice as he said, “I know you’re in a lot of pain right now, but I’m just so happy!” I couldn’t help but laugh through the contraction. He was like a little kid on Christmas! All day we were texting and calling your aunts, uncles, and grandparents, giving them a play-by-play of our day. Everyone was so excited to meet you!
|last belly shot before you came!|
We were trying to wait until my contractions were 5 minutes apart before going to the hospital, and in the mean time we packed our bags, cleaned the house, and showered. At one point my contractions jumped to only two and three minutes apart, meaning it was time to go to the hospital. I told your dad and his response was, “So….are you saying I should probably just put my bagel bites in the oven now and forgo the preheat?” I laughed so hard. We stalled as long as we could because we really didn’t want to get sent home from the hospital. At about 3pm we packed everything into the car and headed to the hospital. I had your dad park near the back of the parking lot so I could get some extra last minute walking in. On the way in I had to pause for a contraction and your dad ran to the information desk to find out exactly where we should go. They sent him back to me with a wheelchair. I was determined to walk myself into the Labor & Delivery unit, so I had it sent back.
When we were finally admitted into the L&D unit, we were anxious to do anything we could to ensure that you were not only going to arrive soon, but that you would be healthy and happy! My nurse admitted me under the condition that within an hour I had to make significant progress, otherwise I would be sent home. When I got there I was dilated to 2cm and 70% effaced. An hour later I was still only a 2.5, and 75% effaced, but that was apparently enough progress so they officially admitted me and told me that I would not be going home without a baby! We were thrilled!! The first hour I was there, my contractions varied between 3 and 5 minutes apart. But after that, I stalled out and was barely having one contraction every 10 minutes. This whole time, your dad was so so great! During the pregnancy, I had given him a hard time about being a good birth partner, even making him read a book called “The Birth Partner” and testing him about his duties (especially feeding me ice chips). While at the hospital he got me ice chips when ever I asked, and even topped it off with as much sno-cone flavoring as I wanted. He was allowed to eat as many cookies, oreo’s, and snacks as he wanted, but he stopped eating them in front of me since I couldn’t have any. Up to this point, the contractions were painful, but definitely manageable. But still, any time I had a contraction, your dad jumped up from the couch and was instantly by my side. He would put his hand on my leg, or tickle my arm to distract me. For the more intense ones, he would say, “Just focus on my touch, you’re almost done, just focus on this…” as he tickled my arm. It was exactly what I needed! I can’t even put into words how meaningful his support was. He was everything, and I couldn’t have done it without him. He was the perfect birth partner.
After 2 hours of standing, lunging, and bouncing on the birthing ball, I was still stalling. My nurse, Melissa, called Dr. Harrison who advised that I get a small dose of Pitocin, which would hopefully speed up contractions. While we were discussing this option, my contractions sped up to 2-3 minutes apart on their own, but we still went ahead with the Pitocin. Almost immediately my contractions became only a minute apart and were very intense. I tried to breathe through them but quickly became overwhelmed. The contractions were extremely painful, but still barely tolerable. It was the fact that they were only a minute apart that put me over the edge; I didn’t have enough time to compose myself before the next one came. I tried to catch my breath in between contractions, but before I could manage that, another one would hit. It quickly became more than I could handle, and frankly, I was a total mess. Your dad was so perfect though! He never left my side. He breathed with me when breathing was hard, and he never stopped holding my hand. I called for the anesthesiologist, but he had just gone into another room and so he was unavailable. Luckily your dad didn’t tell me that...he kept telling me that I would have my epidural before the next contraction hit. I was under this impression for probably 10-15 contractions. I ended up having to wait for 30 excruciating minutes. I remember crying and feeling completely defeated; I didn’t think I could handle another second. Your dad held my face and with tears in his eyes, he told me that I could do it. I was in so much pain, and when I looked at him, I could tell that it was equally as painful for him to watch and not be able to help me. At one point, as a contraction broke and I was given a 30 second break, I looked up to your dad and he said, “I just love you so much.” He was so emotional and I could hear the truth behind his words. I’ve never doubted that your daddy loves me, but right then I could just hear the love in his voice. It meant so much to me. I remember thinking to myself that with him by my side, and with his love supporting me, I would survive. I could do this, but only because I had him.
Finally the anesthesiologist came in and got right to work giving me my epidural. I was in the middle of a contraction, but he grabbed my body and just flipped me on my side. I remember being really upset that he just jerked me around, especially while I was in so much pain. But then, within 5 minutes of him coming in, my pain was completely relieved and I loved the man! I’ve never heard of an epidural being administered that fast, and I was so grateful! I was joking and laughing with him, and I looked over at your dad who was just standing there with wide eyes, looking at me. One minute ago I had been a complete mess, and now here I was laughing like nothing bad had ever happened. I’m sure it was quite a shock for him.
Finally I was able to relax and just breathe for the first time. Your dad put in a movie for me (Despicable Me), and rushed out to get some McDonalds for himself (he hadn’t eaten since we got in at about 4pm, and we were pushing 9pm at this point). He had just left when my nurse came in to check my progress. It had only been an hour since my epidural but apparently I had progressed from 5cm to 10cm. Melissa said, “Oh! You’re complete!” Not quite comprehending what she was saying, I asked, “…what do you mean… complete?” and she said, “You are complete! You’re ready! I’m feeling the head right now!” I immediately panicked and said “No! My husband’s at McDonalds! And my doctor is in Park City!” Luckily, due to the epidural we were in no rush. My doctor had plenty of time to get there from being in Park City with her daughter (an hour away), and your dad hurried back as soon as possible, and we enjoyed our last minutes as just the two of us.
At about 11pm, we knew my doctor was about 15 minutes away. You dad brought his chair over to my bed, held my hands in his, and brought his face close to mine. I will always look back at this time so fondly, as the last moments as just the two of us. Aside from meeting you, this was my favorite moment of the night. We were both pretty emotional as we reminisced on our years together, and how excited and nervous we were for you to join our family. We knew we were ready for you, but it was still scary. Those last moments together definitely had a defining influence on me, and my relationship with your dad. When I look back at the few top meaningful and important moments in my life, this one would be near the top of my list. Our love for each other was tangible. Your dad held my hands, kissed my forehead, and told me how much he loved me. My heart was as full as could be. It was such a special moment.
Finally Dr. Harrison came in and we got ready to start pushing! Pushing was a lot harder than I expected. During each contraction, I held my breath and pushed for the count of 10. I repeated this three times per contraction, and then was able to rest until the next contraction. I probably only pushed for 5 or 6 contractions (25 minutes), and with each one, your dad got more and more excited! When the count got to about 7, the intensity in his voice would increase and he would say, “Come on Kaela! You can do it! You’re so close! Come on Kaela!!!” One of his hands held my leg up, and the other one held my head up. During the rest periods he put his head close to mine and softly encouraged me. I remember pushing harder because of his excitement; I just wanted him to be able to meet you so badly! Finally at 11:53pm, as I pushed with all my might, your little head popped out. I was able to stop pushing and Dr. Harrison wiggled your little body out.
She held up your tiny little body so we could see if you were a girl or a boy! This was the moment that we had been waiting for for months, and your little umbilical cord stole the spotlight and blocked our view! I about died! Dr. Harrison quickly moved it out of the way and your dad happily exclaimed, “IT’S A GIRL!!!!!!” In that moment, I was completely overcome by emotion! The thought, “I have a daughter!” kept running through my head. A beautiful, healthy daughter! And I could already feel your tender little spirit. That moment, finding out your gender, was everything I had been told it would be. The whole pregnancy, I didn’t have a preference of what gender I wanted. But when I found out you were a beautiful baby girl, I knew that you were exactly what I wanted all along! I was completely overcome with emotion!
The doctors had to cut your umbilical cord before they could place you on my chest, and I was grateful to have a few seconds to compose myself. I was so overwhelmed by emotion. My whole life had just changed! I looked over to your dad and he was looking back and forth between you and me, with the biggest smile on his face and tears in his eyes. I pulled him in and gave him a big kiss! We were officially parents to a perfect baby girl!
When they placed you on my chest I just looked at you. You were crying so loud, but whenever I would say, “Shhh, it’s okay baby girl!” you would quiet down. And then the nurses would come over and rub you some more to make you cry again. They wanted your lungs to warm up, and crying helped get oxygen through your whole body. But I hated to see you cry, so I kept talking to you and soothing you until you’d stop crying; and then the nurse would remind me again that it was good for you to cry for a little while. I just wanted you to be happy though, so it was really hard for me and I kept instinctually trying to soothe you.
I got to hold you for a good 30 minutes before they had to take you away to do a quick check up. Your dad wouldn’t leave your side, and went with you to watch everything. After you were all cleaned up and the check-up found you to be perfectly healthy, they brought you back over to me and I just held you. Eventually all the doctors and nurses left the room, and it was just the three of us. I was able to take a deep breath and just soak it all in. We were a little family.
Your dad was anxious to hold you, so after a little while, I passed you over to him. He sat down on the couch and cuddled you into his chest. He couldn’t take his eyes off you. It was the most tender thing to watch. He bowed his head and just looked into your eyes. For the first time since you were born, you quieted down and just stared back at him.
You made him a father, and me a mother. Our love could not be measured. From these first moments, you completely stole our hearts. Even at that moment, there was nothing we wouldn’t do for you. I loved watching you in your daddy’s arms. And I loved seeing the expression on his face, of pure love and joy. It was such a spiritual and intimate experience for both of us. We could feel your special spirit, and we knew that you were meant to join our family. How grateful I am to know that death has no power over our family, that families can be forever. How blessed I feel to be sealed to the two of you, for time and all eternity.