Colton Blake's birth story

So I'm sitting here snuggling a newborn on my chest, still in disbelief that he's actually here. I wanted to type out his birth story while the details are still fresh. Although I could go with forgetting some of the intensity. Ha.

This is probably going to be long and boring, but you're reading it and I warned you. ;)

Overall, I had a great, easy birth experience with Landon - from start to finish it was about 9 hours, but only about 6 hours of contractions. However, I was induced for a thickened placenta/growth problems, and I really wanted to avoid any kind of induction this time. I found an absolutely wonderful midwife in Pensacola, Jenny Allen, and she was the first person who really inspired me to go naturally. Totally not pushy about it, but she treated everything so differently than the doctors during my first pregnancy. Now - I just said I had a great birth experience with Landon - and that was with pitocin and an epidural. So I am not anti-meds! But I knew it just wasn't for me this time. I did a lot of reading, a lot of praying, and a whole lot of talking to Randy. I wanted to go naturally for two main reasons. First, I knew it was what our bodies were created to do. Therefore - even though it seems like it - it's not impossible! Second, Landon had an extremely difficult time nursing. I knew epidurals could be a cause for that, and honestly, it was so incredibly hard dealing with that breastfeeding struggle that I knew I wanted to see if it could make a difference to go drug-free. [And I have plenty of friends who had epidurals and great nursers... I just wasn't that lucky!]

So, the story. I had been feeling some stronger contractions on and off the week I went into labor, but I just figured I was gearing up for birth... in the next couple of weeks. On Thursday, I had a few contractions I had to stop and breathe through, but they were random and short. I was pretty much convinced all during my pregnancy that they had my dates wrong (based on my calculations) and I would go into labor the following week. As my due date approached, I tried not to feel anxious - I knew a due date was only an estimate, and I knew it would be okay to be "late." But of course I started thinking of crazy different scenarios, particularly scenarios of his daddy in the airplane. ;) [God worked out so many details so perfectly in regards to Colton's birth. On Friday, the day I had Colton, Randy wasn't scheduled to fly - or even check in to base! I love that God cares about our smallest anxieties.] Anyway, on Thursday night, I went to the gym - people were on all (my) ellipticals so I decided to walk. Ha. For me, walking is actually more painful during pregnancy than the elliptical. But I walked for about 30 minutes that night and did a lot of pelvic rocking afterward on the yoga ball to relieve some of the pressure. That night, I didn't sleep too great because I was sore from all the walking - or maybe having contractions? Either way, I woke up and thought, Welp, I'm still pregnant. But I was okay with that and had a busy day planned... including a dinner and movie date with my hubby. Needless to say, we didn't make it there. He still is talking about how we missed seeing Oz... ;)

Randy decided to go pick up the movie tickets early, and I was getting ready to go out to get groceries and run some errands with Landon. I was brushing my teeth when... um? Did I seriously just pee my pants? And then... it kept coming. I called my midwife, Jenny, kinda still shocked and unsure that my water had broken on my due date, and she told me I should go over to labor and delivery for them to check it out. I called Aubrey, my wonderful babysitter for Landon, and then finally called Randy to come on home. Thankfully he hadn't bought the tickets yet! ;) [A big reason I had to get to L&D sooner rather than later was because I tested GBS positive this pregnancy, so they had to start the IV antibiotics soon after my water broke to avoid infection.] We got to L&D around 11:30, and they hooked me up to the monitors, etc. I was having some mild contractions, some of them more uncomfortable than others, but still nothing consistent. Jenny told me she wanted to see me in active labor within 6-8 hours or we would have to look at some options to progress labor. I knew she would avoid pitocin at all costs, but I also knew that baby needed to come! I prayed and prayed that my labor would start progressing. They hooked me up to the IV antibiotics soon after I got there, which took a couple of hours to administer, but even after that time, I still wasn't really having good, consistent contractions. However, I knew in order to progress, I was going to have to be active, and just with check-in, running IV's, filling out paperwork, etc, I wasn't able to. In the meantime, though, I asked my midwife if I could eat since I was feeling a bit weak from not eating for several hours, and she said that Randy could sneak something in. So he did. ;) I ate a sub and felt so much better. Jenny was getting ready to leave for a bit since nothing was really going on, which was fine by me, but she wanted to check me before she left to get a baseline. I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, but my cervix was still pretty high. I had been 3 cm and 85-90% effaced the previous Monday, so I didn't really think I had done that much. And truth be told, I don't really read a lot into cervical checks because I know way too many girls that walk around for weeks at 5 cm! Finally we were able to start walking around 2:30, and I started to feel a few more contractions. It wasn't until about 3:30 that afternoon that I started feeling crampier, more consistent contractions. I texted my mom: "Picking up and ouch. I remember." So we kept walking. It was getting to the point where I had to stop and lean on the hall railing and breathe through the contraction. Randy would apply counter-pressure on my back, which was amazing. We went back to the room around 4 so my nurse could hook me up to the wireless monitors again (she had to do it for 15 minutes every hour), and I decided to rock on the birthing ball. And that's pretty much where I stayed the rest of my labor! Randy sat behind me and every time a contraction came, he would remind me to breathe, relax, and then apply as much pressure as he could to my lower back. It's actually still a bit sore... which meant he was doing his job! ;)

I truly could not have made it through labor without my Randy. He was incredibly calm the entire time, and even when I started "losing it" during transition, he never once showed doubt or fear. When he was busy with flight school, he took the time to go through the Bradley book (see below) with me, and I appreciated that so, so much. During labor, he knew exactly what to say and do! I married a pretty amazing guy.

Back to labor. I had created a playlist on my phone with worship music that was especially meaningful to me, and I really focused on the words during each contraction. It may not sound like a lot, but that was huge in getting me through some of those more intense moments. Around 5:30, Randy mentioned he should probably eat, but didn't know if he should leave to get something in the hospital cafeteria.  I was like, "I'll be fine... I can work through a couple contractions on my own." And I was also thinking I had hours to go still. I didn't realize how much I needed his help until he was gone! And my contractions didn't go from 8 to 7 to 6 minutes apart... pretty much once active labor started, they were two and three minutes apart and a minute or longer for the duration of the time. Some of them were right on top of each other, and I remember thinking, Why am I not getting a break?! Randy came back to the room a little before 6, and we kept working through the contractions. At that point, I was doing some low moaning through each one, which was an amazing relief. My nurse, Rachael, wanted to check me around 6, but I was reluctant. I'd heard way too many stories about women who got checked and ended up super disappointed because they were only 5 cm and then they didn't want to keep going. So I put it off for a while. Rachael had to come back to put the monitors on for a bit around 6:30, and at that point, I started feeling really tired. It happened so suddenly that I was a bit unprepared for it. It wasn't that I felt I couldn't go on - it was just that my body felt so exhausted. I told her I thought I'd get in the jacuzzi tub for a bit. Rachael told me later that when I said that, she knew she needed to check me to make sure Jenny would make it in time. So I let her check me, and surprise surprise, I was 8 cm and at a +1 station! I was shocked. Randy's face was priceless when she told us that. He knew we were in the home stretch! I suddenly started feeling really intense contractions, and when I got in the tub, everything kinda went blurry. I do remember very distinctly saying, "I can't do this!" (hello, transition) and Randy calmly and sweetly reassuring me, "You ARE doing it!" I was in the tub for maybe 5 minutes, and I was like, "This baby is coming NOW!" The nurse immediately got me out of the tub and back in bed, laying me on my side. She had called Jenny when she found out I was 8 cm, and Jenny left right away because she knew I'd go fast. All I know is, once I got in that bed, I wanted to push so badly. And since Jenny wasn't there, they didn't really want me to. Of course, my body was already starting to push because it somehow knows what to do ;) Randy and the nurse kept reminding me to control my breathing, but at that point, the contractions and pressure were so intense that I was having a really hard time. I'm pretty sure I almost pulled Randy's hand off. But, praise God, my midwife finally made it, checked me and I was complete (um... pretty sure I had been after all that pressure for the last 15 minutes!) and I immediately starting pushing. By far the hardest part of the entire labor experience. It was only about five minutes from start to finish, but it felt like so much longer. Jenny was wonderful in helping me focus and telling me how to breathe, and she told me later that I had good control. I totally laughed when she told me that because control is the LAST thing I felt. But when she told me to reach down and feel his little head, I knew it was so close! Finally, his head and shoulders were out, and once the midwife got a good little cry out of him, she put him on my chest. I felt such relief. My sweet baby boy was finally here and just like that, the pain was gone. He was born at 6:57 pm, less than 3.5 hours after active labor started. I am so, so thankful! Once the cord stopped pulsing and they cleaned him up a bit, they put him on my chest so I could nurse. And wouldn't you know it... he latched on right away. I was amazed! He's still doing fabulously at nursing (other than the typical sleepy newborn issues), and it has made a world of difference. He was 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and 19 inches long... and perfect.

I had a bit too much bleeding after labor, so Jenny started some pitocin to stop it, but for some reason, it took quite a while for it to actually stop. It finally did after about an hour. But amazingly, I didn't tear at all, which has made the recovery process so, so much easier. Yet another reason I love my midwife!

So, how did I prepare?

- A lot of reading. Other than plenty of online research, the two main books I read were Childbirth the Bradley Way by McCutcheon and The Birth Book by Sears. Both were extremely helpful in understanding the entire process of childbirth and on how to manage labor pain. Randy and I practiced several of the Bradley methods for breathing and relaxation, and that was huge during labor.

- Exercise. I went to the gym 4-5 days a week my entire pregnancy (except for some of the weeks where I was really sick or out of town). I did about 30 minutes on the elliptical and 30 minutes of weights. Not only did it help significantly with my energy levels, but I believe it also enabled me to have the endurance I needed during labor.

- Supplements. I took red raspberry leaf tea capsules from about 20 weeks on, and evening primrose oil from 33 weeks. I won't explain their significance... because I'd probably just confuse you... but Google is your best friend. ;)

- Spiritual preparation. Yes, I believe in the power of a woman's body to give birth naturally, but I knew that without God's strength and grace, it would be impossible for me to get through it. The verse I claimed for labor was II Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness." In other words, Jesus' strength works best in my weakness! All the praise and glory goes to Him!

We are loving this new little guy and are so thankful for a safe delivery and wonderful experience. Am I a better person because I labored naturally? Nope. What matters is that a precious, healthy baby is here. God is so kind to His children!

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