Here is the birth story that I will never forget and always cherish. I hope that I wrote this in the best way possible. It’s very long, but I did not want to leave anything out. I absolutely loved Winter’s birth and would not change a thing about it. Here is how she came into the world…
Winter’s Beautiful Birth Story
When I hit 39 weeks on October 1st, I all of the sudden felt very “ready” to have my baby. Something just suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks: I was ready to be done with my pregnancy and ready to meet our little girl. I started to think that she was coming any day, and then nothing ever happened. My Braxton Hicks contractions were becoming more frequent and much stronger, sometimes even painful! “Surely today is the day,” I kept thinking to myself — everyday. And then nothing would result.
My due date came and went. As I was a runner all the way throughout my pregnancy, there was something special about the run I went on that Tuesday morning — my due date. It felt like a momentous day. It felt great that I could celebrate that day with a healthy run outside in the gorgeous fall weather. I started trying all kinds of old wives tales for helping stimulate labor…with no avail. At my O.B. appointment that afternoon on Tuesday, October 8th (baby’s due date), my doctor said her best friend always swears by eating eggplant parmesan to induce labor. So I thought I’d give it a whirl if nothing had happened in a few days. I just wanted to meet our girl!
Post run on my due date!
On Wednesday, October 9th I felt very emotional and depressed because I was still baby-less. It felt as if every single day was a year long. At that moment, it felt as if I were NEVER going to go into labor. I was in a bad mood and I felt awful — both emotionally and physically exhausted. My back was killing me from sciatic nerve pressure and I was just feeling defeated. I went to the gym to workout and made myself do an “extra intense” workout just to see if that could get baby motivated to make her grand appearance. I worked out on the stairmaster, the rowing machine and jacob’s ladder (that was probably hilarious to watch a pregnant lady use). After over an hour of cardio, I did a full body weight lifting. As I left the gym, the front desk person and I briefly chatted how if they saw me again I was going to be sad that I still hadn’t given birth. Well, thankfully they wouldn’t see me again — since that night I went into labor!
Jacob’s Ladder – I bet that was interesting to watch a pregnant lady use!
Because of my sciatic back pain, I went to see my chiropractor for an adjustment around 6pm on Wednesday evening, which was my second adjustment that week. On the drive home, I called and talked with my dad for a half an hour. During that drive home/phone call with Dad, I was noticing really strong Braxton Hicks contractions, but didn’t allow myself to get my hopes up. After all, these were just more of the same.
When I got home, Eric and I decided to go out to dinner for our weekly date night early since we hoped that by Friday the baby would already be here. The eggplant parmesan recommendation from my doctor was ringing in my head, so I suggested the Macaroni Grill. Just before heading out to dinner, I went to the bathroom and noticed a bit of a bloody show….that got my heart racing…maybe this was the start of something?!
At dinner I found myself feeling extra excited and told Eric what had happened in the bathroom at home. Neither of us wanted to get our hopes up yet. As we ate dinner, I noticed my Braxton Hicks contractions started to feel painful — a different type of painful than I had previously experienced. To be honest, I was not quite sure if I was having gas pains or contractions. If they were gas pains, I needed to find out! So I went to the bathroom to investigate, and no, they were not gas pains. During the rest of dinner we both started to get more excited that we could potentially be at the beginning of something real!
Macaroni Grill – where my contractions started.
We left the restaurant and arrived home about 9pm (we are late eaters). Because we were now in the comfort of our home, we decided to start timing my contractions. The way I would describe what I was feeling was a menstrual cramp/pain down low in the bottom of my belly. It felt like a sting or a sharp pain, or almost like someone was sticking a knife in my uterus. Ouch! At that point in the evening, it hurt, but was still very manageable. We decided to run a bath, so I hopped in the tub and tried to relax between contractions from 9-10pm. We continued timing, and the pains were very regular, ranging from 5-7 minutes apart.
At around 10:30 p.m. I decided to call my mom since my parents are on Eastern time. If this truly was labor, I wanted to inform her before things progressed too much and had to call her with a middle-of-the-night phone call. I described my “knife stabbing into my uterus” pains to Mom, and she said I needed to stop calling them that, and call them contractions. Haha! I still was not really 100% convinced that I was in labor. I didn’t want to get my hopes up just yet — but my excitement was growing.
Between 11:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m. my contractions were coming every 4-6 minutes and getting stronger and more painful. Eric was my dutiful timer. We used an app on his phone to time the contractions, which made things really easy! During that period of time I bounced on my exercise ball, got on my hands and knees to allow baby to hang down, and rocked my hips constantly to encourage baby to move down. I took a second bath, and this time the water felt SO AMAZING on my body.
At 1:00 a.m. I needed to get out of the house, so we decided to go for a walk outside. Yes, at 1:00 a.m.! We walked laps and laps around our neighborhood, trying to be quiet since we didn’t want to wake anyone. We probably walked 2 miles on that crisp fall night. I was still able to walk through the contractions, though they were getting stronger and sometimes coming every 2 1/2 minutes apart.
After our walk, I decided I wanted to take a hot shower. I needed the pain relief as well as I wanted to look decent for birth. Ha, of course! After my shower, I was starving, so Eric and I sat down at the table and ate our Macaroni Grill leftovers from dinner at around 2:30 a.m. I continued having contractions, but it felt SO GREAT to get a bit of food in my stomach. I was starting to feel exhausted from getting no sleep combined with the pain I was feeling. After eating, we deemed it felt necessary to go to the hospital. I was feeling quite a lot of pain during each contraction and I knew that SURELY I was getting really fair along at this point. So Eric loaded the car with our bags, he snapped a couple of photos of me, and we were off!
Heading to the hospital in the wee hours of the morning, nearly 3am.
One last look from both sides.
During that 15 minute drive to the hospital, I had at least 3 or 4 strong contractions. Sitting down in the car, being unable to move through the contraction, was really excruciating for me. At least when I was at home I could move around as needed or roll/bounce on my ball to help ease the pain. Sitting in a seatbelt in a vehicle is NOT ideal for labor.
We arrived at the hospital at 3:00 a.m. and I called my mom to let her know an update of where things stood. I still was unsure of how “far along” into labor I was, but I knew surely we were making some definite progress since I was in a lot of pain and the contractions were 2-5 minutes apart lasting for a minute or longer. We entered the emergency entrance and notified the staff that I was in active labor. A nurse was sent down to escort me up to the labor and delivery wing via wheelchair. I was wheeled up to the maternity floor — my first time ever being a patient at a hospital.
From the moment I arrived in the hospital, I noticed an extreme change in my contractions. They seemed to slow down and feel less intense. Perhaps it was the adrenaline rush from being at the hospital, who knows??? We were brought into a room and the nurse had me change into a gown and give a urine sample. They hooked up the two monitors to my belly to start monitoring contractions and baby’s heartrate. For about an hour we dealt with logistics: 100 million questions that I had to answer. My contractions continued coming, but not as close together or quite at the intensity they were before my admittance.
Talking to my mom while at the hospital,
At the end of that hour, the nurse finally checked my cervix. She estimated I was over 3 but less than 4 centimeters dilated. This just about crushed my spirit! Just on Tuesday, I had been just under 3 centimeters at my O.B. appointment. How on earth had I not made ANY progress after all these hours of painful contractions?! It just left me feeling so discouraged.
The nurse suggested that Eric and I get up and walk around the hospital halls for an hour to see if that caused any cervical change. Being SO EXHAUSTED from pulling an all-nighter, that hour of walking felt like it lasted for 5 hours. Plus, I was walking around in a hospital gown (with one over the back for extra modesty), so I felt less than comfortable. A few times during the walk I stopped to use the rest room and noticed heavy bleeding. Bleeding that somewhat scared me! It was heavy like a period, and each time I used the restroom, there was lots more blood. This is something I notified the nurses of, and they seemed to think it was normal for labor.
At 5:30 a.m. we returned to our room to see if our hour-plus walk had made any cervical change. I was feeling extremely beat and worn down from a lack of sleep combined with the exhaustion from being in labor all night. I did not feel hopeful because I was having hardly any contractions at that time. The nurse, Amy (a different one because of a shift change during our time walking) came in to check me to see if there was any more progress. After checking my cervix, she estimated that I was 3-4 cm dilated. BIG bummer. Again, I felt so frustrated and defeated.
This nurse, Amy, was a really pushy and opinionated gal. She strongly suggested we could use pitocin to get labor jumpstarted and sped along. RED FLAG!! I did NOT want pitocin AT ALL. No way, no how. In my mind, my baby girl was going to come out when she was darn well ready, and I did NOT need pitocin to make her mad. I expressed this to the nurse, and she looked at me like I was a whacko. I told her that I wanted to leave the hospital and go home because apparently the baby wasn’t quite ready yet. Being pushy and opinionated, she pleaded with me to stay. It really took a lot of courage for me to stand up for myself and say no. I wanted to go home, be in my comfort zone and labor at home as I pleased. I did NOT want to stay strapped to a hospital bed, exhausted from an all-nighter and having some bitchy (sorry for the language) nurse push her opinions and drugs on me. She left the room so Eric and I could talk.
We said NO to Pitocin!
We decided to check ourselves out and go home. The nurse returned and said, “well, I guess if your baby wants to be born today, you will probably be back by noon anyway, so go home.” What relief. They let us go. At this time it was 6:00 a.m. and I was having basically no contractions. My level of discouragement was prevalent. But I felt we were making the right choice for us to go home rather than staying at the hospital. I needed to do this the RIGHT way.
Upon arriving home around 6:45 a.m., we thought it would be best to try to get some sleep, since we were both extremely exhausted from getting none all night long. We lied down in our bed and I think I was able to be restful (translation: not ACTUALLY fall asleep) for a period of time. I did not actually sleep, but the rest gave me a nice jumpstart. I needed anything I could get in the way of relaxation,
Around 9:00 a.m. I was started to get extremely painful contractions again. In fact, the pain was SO MUCH stronger now than anything from the entire night before! Eric was still asleep in the bed and I didn’t want to disturb him yet, so I ran a hot bath. While the bath was running, I found myself dropping on the floor to my knees in such extreme pain. THIS WAS IT! Things were rolling again! I was excited but still not positive that we were having a baby that day yet. From 9:30-10:30 a.m. I soaked in the tub, breathing through really intense painful contractions every 3-5 minutes apart. Eric, who was awake now, was so supportive and helpful and tried to help me through each one.
Eric called my O.B. office to see if there was any way I could come in to the office to be checked for cervical change rather than going to the hospital before we truly felt ready to go again. She apologized that the earliest they could see me was 2:00 p.m. if I could even make it that long. So my goal was to get myself to 2:00. At that point, it was really hard to focus on anything because I was in such extreme pain. I remember calling my mom while lying on the floor in pain saying, “Mom, how on earth do people do this?!?” and she said, “Katy, after the baby is born, you will forget all of this pain.”
From 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. the contractions were SO INTENSE and coming 2-4 minutes apart. I couldn’t focus on anything and I dreaded the next contraction ahead. I bounced on my exercise ball, leaned over pieces of furniture and just tried to breathe through each one. I found that they would come on really strong and peak and then fade out. It helped me to close my eyes and breathe deeply throughout the peak of each contraction. After one was finished, at least I never had to “deal with THAT contraction again!”
At 12:00 p.m. I needed to get outside and walk the neighborhood. I was walking SO SLOWLY and had to stop to hold myself up against Eric or fences when the contractions would come. I felt miserable that 2:00 p.m. was still so far away. My pain was SO BAD and I was crying on an off. We got back home from our walk and I called my sister Maggie. I had to hand off the phone to Eric when a contraction came because I couldn’t talk. In fact, I ran to the kitchen sink and vomited. Eric hung up the phone and said that Maggie said to get to the hospital immediately if I was throwing up. Throwing up means things are really progressed far. She thought I might even be close to the transition phase of labor.
We drove to the hospital and were admitted at 1:30 p.m. Thankfully I was assigned a new nurse, Shauna, who was the most friendly gal I’ve ever met. I was so relieved I didn’t have my previous pushy nurse from that morning. After getting changed and hooked up to the monitors, Shauna checked me and estimated I was 5 cm dilated and we decided to stay. She said she was being modest with that number, so even though she said I was at a 5, it could have really been a 6 or more according to other nurses she said…but her theory is that she doesn’t like to tell someone a higher number, just in case. She hooked up my IV to administer the standard fluids, and we found that I was extremely dehydrated as I had not eaten or drank anything at all since my 2:30 a.m. snack.
Only 20 minutes after arriving, the doctor came in to check me and I had already dilated to 7 cm! They went ahead and broke my water and I notified them that I wanted an epidural. I figured the worst of the pain was behind me, but I was just so READY to feel better.
Seeing the baby station in our room was making things feel more real!
At the hospital – ready for a bit of pain relief.
Before the epidural, my entire body started shaking violently. The shakes were so violent and I could hear Shauna in the background telling someone that we need to get this epidural quickly since I was in transition phase. It felt like they were in a different world — I was in a cloudy space, almost like an out of body experience. I kept wondering “how am I going to hold still for 10 minutes for this epidural?!?” since I was shaking so uncontrollably.
Eric went to move the car (since he was parked in 2 hour parking because the garage was full), and barely made it back in time to hold my shoulders while they put the epidural needle in. Anesthesiology moved fairly quickly. Right before they prepped me for the epidural, they checked again and I was 8 cm! Wow, things sure were moving along now! At this time, it was approximately 3:30 p.m. By this point I was having such terrible contraction pains and being trapped on a bed was MISERABLE. Thankfully Eric walked in right in the nick of time to hold me while the needle was inserted. My violent shakes were going on uncontrollably, but with all my might I held still.
The epidural was easy breezy and took effect quickly. From that point on, my experience when from “chaotic and miserable-feeling” to “happy and relaxed.” All of the sudden I began to ENJOY the experience! My pain was now gone and I could finally relax and enjoy the ride. I have no regrets about getting the epidural. I could still feel my legs and was able to somewhat move them and wiggle my toes, so I was not completely numb.
Happy to meet our daughter shortly! I was feeling amazing now that I had the epidural.
It was about 4:00 p.m. and I was feeling absolutely wonderful. For the next period of time, our nurse Shauna hung out in our room and we chatted lightheartedly about this and that. She monitored the baby’s heartbeat and my contractions while we visited. It was really fun to see that I was having regular/frequent contractions without having to feel them! Shauna decided rather than checking my cervix, she wanted to just wait until I felt pressure to see when I’d made it to a 10. Since I was so relaxed, Eric went to grab a quick bite to eat (as did Shauna), and this allowed me time to make a few phone calls. Up until this point, I had notified no one (besides family) that we were in labor. I sent out several texts to get friends up to speed.
Post epidural when I could finally smile!
At just before 6:00 p.m. Shauna came back and took my temperature. She became slightly concerned when she saw that I was running a bit of a fever. She went ahead and gave me Tylenol to help bring the fever down, and suggested that she check to see if I was at 10 cm dilated yet. She checked, and sure enough, I was 100% effaced and 10 cm dilated! Who knows how long I had been dilated to a 10! It had probably been for a while!! Shauna said because of my fever, it was wise to start pushing now rather than waiting for me to feel the urge to push, so we started a few “practice pushes.” I was nervous that I wouldn’t know how to do it correctly or that I would be too numb to push, but with her guidance, she said my pushing was perfect right from the get-go. With the next several contractions, she continued having me push to get the baby to move further down into the birth canal.
Shauna took our photo right before I started pushing. Last family photo as a family of only two!
My doctor, Dr. Lewkowski, arrived to the room shortly after (this was right after 6:00 p.m.). She was supposed to be getting off work at 5:00 p.m. but decided rather than leaving, it would be more fun to stick around and deliver a baby tonight! I was so grateful that she did that! It really meant a lot to have her there to deliver my baby. My doctor and nurse then began guiding me through pushes with each contraction that came. We would do three 10-second pushes with each contraction. Eric held my left leg and Shauna held the right. The pushes were very effective, but I was shocked at how much energy it took out of me!
At one point during the pushing process (perhaps 6:20 p.m.), another nurse rushed in the room in a panic to check my blood pressure reading because she saw that it was really low suddenly. Moments later, I began feeling really light headed and the room started to fade in and out. I don’t remember exactly what they said my blood pressure was, but I thought I heard something in the neighborhood of 70/50…scary! It turns out that I was lying flat on my back, which was causing some sort of blockage in one of my major arteries. After moving me onto my side, they quickly put a bag of fluid into my IV.
After a few minutes my blood pressure came back up to a healthy level. I started feeling more normal at that point, thank the Lord. That was a scary few minutes because the room suddenly swarmed with all kinds of medical staff. Eric later told me that he felt really scared too. In those few seconds where I felt like I was “fading out” I remember thinking, “what if I die today?” or “Lord help my baby be ok!” or “I hope they don’t rush us into an emergency c-section.” Thankfully all it took to get me back into running order was giving me fluid and moving me onto my side. Once my blood was able to get moving through the arteries again and my blood pressure came back up, I was back in great shape.
With that brief fiasco behind us, it was time to continue pushing and meet our baby! 9 months of pregnancy got us to this point, and it was time to SHINE! I continued pushing three times for 10 seconds each with every contraction. The doctor asked if I wanted a mirror (which the nurses all thought she asked if I wanted a beer, how funny!), and my response was a quick, “No thanks!” As the baby started crowning, I didn’t even need a mirror because I could see her head coming out anyway! I could see a head with tons of dark hair — that was such a crazy sight to see! Dr. Lewkowski asked if I wanted to feel her head, so I did, and boy was that nuts. MY BABY WAS COMING OUT!!!
Once her head was out, the doctor asked me to just keep on pushing, so quickly our baby slid out and they placed her immediately on my chest. All I remember thinking was “how the heck did this entire human being just come out of my body?!” I started sobbing with joy as Winter Elizabeth’s wide eyes stared into mine. Her eyes were so bright blue and she was SO ALERT! She didn’t really cry much, but she was more looking all around taking everything in. She was just so perfect. I cannot even describe the utter joy of those first few moments bonding with her skin to skin. It was amazing how much my heart could immediately love her. It felt like my heart could burst from happiness and love.
Here we are just seconds after they placed her on my chest. I cannot even describe how happy I felt in this moment.
My doctor asked me to give one good push to deliver the placenta. After it came out, I asked to see it. Dr. Lewkowski brought it up to where I could see it and she showed me all the different parts of it and explained how it worked. That was so neat!
Eric said to me, “Katy, good thing you got an epidural, because you are being stitched up right now.” I hadn’t even realized what was going on around me because I was so engrossed in my baby. Dr. Lewkowski said I had a 2nd degree tear, the “most common type” according to what she sees in her patients. I honestly didn’t even care a bit. I was too happy to care about something like that.
A few minutes after Winter’s delivery!
While bonding with Winter skin to skin on my chest, the doctor stitched me up, and Shauna did several fundal massages on my belly to encourage my uterus to shrink down. The nurses later took Winter so they could give her shots and get her birth weight and height. When she was away from me, her cries came and she cried and so hard! That girl has got some lungs!! She didn’t like her shots or being weighed (what girl does?!). She was a healthy 7 pounds, 2.5 ounces and measured 18.5 inches long. Just perfect. What a fun birthday: 10/10/13!
Crying little girl!
After being weighed and measured!
Waiting on her while she was weighed and measured.
After an hour, Shauna had me get up, and I could walk, though somewhat wobbly on my legs. We were moved into our recovery room. Shauna gave Eric and I big hugs…we just LOVED her. She made our experience so wonderful. It was sad to say goodbye, but we were so excited to enjoy the next few days and hours getting to know Winter.
Just moments after we were moved into our recovery room, so happy. Getting to know each other.
We stayed in the hospital until Saturday. It was so fun getting to know our precious daughter in those first hours/days at the hospital. It felt like we were living in a dream. I could have never imagined how beautiful and how much love I could feel for a person. Winter is my little angel and I love her immensely.
Arriving home with our daughter!
Winter’s birth was SO SPECIAL. I will never forget how she made her entrance into the world. Eric and I love our daughter more than words could ever describe. I hope that I didn’t leave out any details…the whole experience was simply magical. Our Winter came on the day and the hour that God picked for her.
Psalm 139:13-16 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”