I have had many requests for Samuel’s birth story and wanted to record it for myself anyway, so here it is with most of the details included!
Our due date was June 4th. I had some early signs of labor beginning about three weeks before that, so even though I thought from the start of pregnancy that I would go overdue, it was really hard not to get my hopes up every time I had one of those signs. But June 4th came and went, and we kept waiting. I do have to admit that the last three weeks of pregnancy were kind of nice. I was done working and just spent the majority of my time at home with the dog, getting stuff done here and there.
At my 41 week appointment (one week overdue), I had an ultrasound to check on the baby and fluid, and everything was perfect. They estimated the baby’s weight to be 8 pounds, 15 ounces. The doctors at our practice usually induce labor at 41 weeks, but we were blessed to get a lot of our appointments with our favorite of the five doctors, Dr. Bray, and she was very supportive of my wishes to wait it out longer. I was definitely worn down from the physical toll of pregnancy, and I understand how women go ahead with induction so they can be done with it, but it was very important to me to avoid any unnecessary interventions. I knew that all three of my sisters, as well as my best friend and other women I know, had their first babies past 41 weeks, and I felt confident that my body would accomplish labor on its own. It had grown this baby without help, and I wanted to give it every chance to deliver as well. Dr. Bray said she would let me wait one more week, and then she would want to induce. I told her that was fine as long as the induction was at my preferred hospital and with her there. So, a tentative induction was “scheduled” for June 20th.
On June 14th, three days after that appointment, I went in to the office for a non-stress test to confirm that the baby was still doing well. The test went great and showed that I was having a lot of contractions. At this point they were still Braxton-Hicks contractions, or “false labor.” I had them very frequently the last few weeks, so I didn’t think much of it. But the midwife checked me and said I was at about 3.5 cm dilated and 80% effaced (I had been effaced that much for weeks), and she said she was sure I was going to be having the baby that very day. This got our hopes up even more! Matt could not go to work after that, so we ended up going to lunch and for a long walk at the mall. The contractions did become more frequent. We would time them occasionally, but they never got regular or more intense that day. However, I really did think it was going to happen very soon, so my mom came over that night. June 15th was very similar, with contractions picking up but not getting regular or more intense. My sister Shelly came that night, and we ended up just having a fun night at my house.
On the morning of June 16th, I woke up at about 5:30 a.m. with painful cramp-like contractions and knew that it was really real. The contractions stayed about 8-10 minutes apart and were definitely more painful. I woke Shelly up at 8:00 a.m., and we went for a long walk. While walking they picked up in intensity and were about 5-6 minutes apart, but when we got home they spaced out a little further. That entire day was pretty much like that. My mom suggested doing “pelvic rock” to ensure that the baby was in good position, so Shelly and I spent most of the day doing that and other exercises and going on walks to encourage labor. Matt did everything he could to help as well. By about 10:00 p.m., the contractions were a lot more intense, and I was pretty sure we would not be sleeping that night. Through the night they got even more intense and would regulate to about every 4-5 minutes, but then would slow down at times with 8-10 minute gaps. It was so frustrating! By 6:00 a.m. they had stayed 3-5 minutes apart for a while, so we decided it was time to go to the hospital.
I had regular nausea and vomiting all 42 weeks of pregnancy, so on the way out the door I decided to grab my “puke bowl” to take in the car just in case. It was a good thing because I had to use it five minutes down the road! I felt better after throwing up, but then the contractions slowed down to about every 9 minutes. I wanted to scream! All that work and still I felt unsure that it would really happen. We got to the hospital, and Shelly and I walked around the parking lot for a little while to try to speed things up before going inside. I was nervous that I would be sent home if I wasn’t far enough along. Once we got inside, however, I realized that that was not even a possibility since I was 42 weeks. We got checked in around 7:00 a.m. and met our first nurse, Sam (only Matt and I knew how fitting her name was at the time J).
Sam was a young but amazing nurse! She was very supportive of my wishes for a natural, non-medicated birth and encouraged me to stay active during labor. On arrival, I was 4.5 cm dilated and still 80% effaced. We spent the next several hours walking the hospital halls, and then spending about 10 minutes of each hour hooked up to the monitor in my room to check on the baby. When I had a contraction, I would lean against either Matt or a wall, close my eyes, relax every part of my body, and breathe deeply through it with a loud humming noise on each exhale. I had read and practiced a lot of relaxation breathing techniques, but this simple one was what ended up working for me.
I really don’t remember exactly what time things happened after this point, but I do know that it continued through the whole day. A couple hours after we arrived at the hospital, Dr. Bray arrived to check on me. This was another wonderful blessing as I felt so much more comfortable with and supported by Dr. Bray than any of the other doctors, and she happened to be on call all weekend. At that time, I was 5 cm dilated. Dr. Bray gave me the go-ahead to continue walking, as well as to take a bath if I wanted and to drink whatever liquids I wanted. She left for a few hours, and we continued what we had been doing. I did take one long bath, which was definitely a big help with the pain. We continued walking, and Shelly would do small exercises with me in the halls. It truly was a huge blessing to have Shelly there because she literally stayed by my side and did everything with me throughout the entire labor. I felt so encouraged having her and my mom there because I knew they had done natural childbirth before. And Matt was the most steady, amazing help to have as well. I also had various other visitors during labor, including my best friend Krystil, my sister-in-law Mandy, and even my dad for a little while.
When Dr. Bray came back in the afternoon, I was 8 cm dilated. We kept moving as much as we could, but the contractions were getting super intense to where it was hard for me to relax quickly enough when I was up walking. I ended up spending a good amount of time laboring in the bed lying on my sides. I had thought I would want to avoid the bed altogether, but it ended up being the only place I could completely relax my body. Somewhere around this time the nurses changed shifts, and at the recommendation of a friend we requested a nurse named Claudette, whom we heard was very experienced with natural births. Claudette ended up being amazing!
Two hours later I was still at 8 cm, so after Dr. Bray assured me the baby’s head was far enough down that it wasn’t dangerous, I let her break my water to try to speed things up. I wanted to avoid all interventions, but I was also prepared to make decisions like this. I had already been awake and in labor for 36 hours and was losing energy, so Matt and I felt comfortable having my water broken artificially since I was so close and the baby had moved down far enough.
The warm gush I felt was definitely the weirdest feeling ever, but things did pick up pretty fast. I was able to walk a little more, but then the contractions became almost unbearable. I was shaking and cold and hot all at the same time. I ended up back in the bed on my sides so that I could relax better. By this point I had my final labor “team” in the room with me, including Matt, my mom, Shelly, and my best friend Krystil.
Dr. Bray checked me again, and I was 9 cm dilated. She thought the baby’s head was slightly off center from the ideal position, so she had me spend the next 45 minutes or so switching side to side with my legs positioned to help move the baby to where he needed to be. The contractions were terrible, lasting over two minutes with probably less than 30 seconds of rest in between. It took several people to help me turn from side to side because I was shaking so much. During one turn I got a huge wave of nausea and ended up throwing up all the fluids I had been drinking (and the small amounts of food I had been “sneaking” for energy). Dr. Bray thought that the vomiting may have helped me dilate more, so she checked again. I was just short of 10 cm dilated, with what is called an anterior lip of cervix, but I was having an overwhelming urge to push. Dr. Bray decided to let me go ahead and start pushing!
The ending was a bit traumatic for me, and looking back I really wish they had made me wait to push. I think my body was just not really ready yet, so the hour of pushing was dramatic and stressful for the baby. I had trouble pushing effectively for a while and was a little overwhelmed by all the voices talking to me (I had my eyes closed still). They started putting an oxygen mask up to my face between contractions, and even in my altered mental state I knew that meant the baby was having some distress. After a few pushes, Claudette got in my face and sternly told me that I could do it, I had to do it, and explained how she wanted me to push. She got through to me, and I became much more effective after that. I was able to push the baby’s head past the lip of cervix, and then he started coming down really fast. Someone got a mirror so I could see his head. That was great motivation! I waited until Dr. Bray said it was okay to push again, and then basically pushed the baby out in one push.
And little Samuel Edward Elliott was here! They put him on my chest for only a few seconds at first, and Matt cut the umbilical cord. Then they took Samuel to the warmer so they could have oxygen flowing near his face and assess him. Claudette explained to me that Samuel had been in a bit of distress, as I thought. His heart decelerated during pushes, which is normal, but then it was slow to recover back up to its normal rate. Matt went across the room with Samuel, and I heard Samuel crying within a few seconds and knew that he was okay. Then I noticed that there was still a lot of activity around me and realized that I had a lot of bleeding. They used medication to get the bleeding under control fast, and then Dr. Bray sewed up my two small tears. After what seemed like an eternity, they brought baby Samuel back over to me and let me have over 30 minutes of skin to skin time with him. He was perfect! He cried and cried, and it was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. I was, and still am, in such awe of our perfect little baby. I know Matt cried, but I don’t think I did at the time (the weeks since are another story!) because I just couldn’t do anything but stare at him and smile.
After 42 weeks of pregnancy and 42 hours of labor, we finally had our precious baby boy! Samuel weighed 7 pounds and 11.5 ounces, and was 21 inches long. His eyes are bluish/grayish with potential to stay blue, and his hair is very light. It has been almost four weeks since he was born, and we are all doing really well. Breastfeeding is going well, and Samuel has surpassed his birth weight by about a pound. He is happy most of the time, and he has already started smiling and interacting a lot. After weeks of staying up until 2:00 a.m. before starting our “nighttime” sleeping, he seems to have adjusted a bit better and is now going to sleep at more desirable times. As for me, recovery has been amazing! I was pretty sore for a couple weeks, but things have been on the upswing since then. I am feeling pretty much normal at this point other than being a bit sleep-deprived, which is amazing and faster than I was expecting to recover. My emotions have been a roller coaster but are mellowing out also. Motherhood has been an adventure so far with lots of little challenges, but I love my little baby so much and enjoy every minute of my time with him. Matt is a complete natural at being a daddy, and seeing him interacting with Samuel is my favorite thing ever. I love my little family and am so excited about our future. I pray daily that God will guide us and teach us how to grow this amazing little baby he has trusted us with.
We did have professional newborn pictures done, so I will update with those soon as well!