Jedidiah’s Birth Story
I will warn you that this is long and I am including details prior to the labor because the events are so intrinsically connected to the birth of our son. The circle of life was full upon us during this week and it was quite an emotional journey that brought us even closer together. This is the story of my rainbow baby’s entry to the world. For those of you unfamiliar with the term rainbow baby, it’s what many of us that have experienced losing a baby call the baby we actually are able to bring home from the hospital (also called a take-home baby). A rainbow baby comes after the storm has been weathered and brings joy and hope for what’s to come. Jedidiah is our rainbow baby. We lost two others on this two-year journey to have him. The pain and heartache we’ve experienced prior to having him is by no means diminished but he brings beauty and light to our lives through it all.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Jason’s father is admitted to the hospital and the next day diagnosed with acute leukemia. We don’t know it then but there wasn’t much time left for Jason to go back home to visit but we plan for the following weekend when he has a three-day weekend.
Sunday, April 19, 2015 (36.5 weeks pregnant)
I have been experiencing contractions off and on since 34 weeks but they haven’t caused any dilation or effacement so I usually ignore them. This particular day though they had been consistent every 2-5 minutes for hours on end so even though they aren’t terribly painful, I am checked out to make sure I don’t go into labor too soon. I am freaking out because I am nowhere near ready to have a baby and I also desperately want Jason to be able to visit his dad. I had a feeling we were running out of time and I really wanted for Jason to have his father meet his grandson before he passed. I tell Jedidiah that I need him to wait just one more week so Jason can make it home. The doctor tells me that I am not dilating and not to worry. I am reassured that it doesn’t look like I will go into labor any time soon.
This same day, Jason’s dad is admitted to ICU for heart failure on top of the leukemia. Jason has to make the decision for a DNR to be issued if his condition takes a turn for the worst.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Jason finds out that his dad passed. It’s hard watching your partner experience grief and pain that you cannot ease or really even share.
The rest of the week, I am experiencing contractions off and on still so I decide to slow it down since every time I am active, they worsen. I was even scheduled to go to Detroit to conduct an eight-hour training but decide to cancel it given the circumstances.
We find out midweek that the visitation is set for Sunday and the funeral is Monday.
Sunday, April 26, 2015 (37.5 weeks pregnant)
3:00am – I woke up, which wasn’t unusual for me at this point in the pregnancy. After 2 hours I couldn’t get back to sleep and I had a burst of energy and decided to wrap up my final project for my biostatistics class since it was due at the end of the day. I remember thinking to myself, “This is an awful lot of energy for this early in the morning and a lot of women experience this right before labor.” But I pushed that thought out of my head since I was only 37.5 weeks along and feeling not quite ready for Jedidiah to make an appearance.
8:00am – I decide to take a short nap before heading to the store to buy a pair of shoes to wear to Jason’s dad’s funeral. We were planning to leave between noon and 1 for Chicago to go to the visitation that day and funeral the next day.
10:00am – I woke up and felt like I may have leaked a little in my sleep. I got out of bed cautiously and as soon as I stood up, I felt a huge gush and realized my water broke. I was in disbelief. I screamed for Jason to grab towels. He hands me one and I tell him that’s not enough so Tanis comes in with some paper towels. Ha. That definitely wasn’t going to be enough but it was sweet of her to try and help.
As I am trying desperately not to leak everywhere, I hear Tanis in the hallway crying to Jason that she’s not ready and doesn’t know how to be a big sister yet. She felt the weight of this surprise arrival just as much as we did.
Jason comes into the room to try and figure out next steps and all I can do is cry and apologize. I am so ridden with guilt that we were not going to be able to go to Chicago that day. I decide that since Tanis’s labor was only 6 hours, surely this would go by fast, too and I pray that Jason can make it to Chicago the next day for the funeral at least.
12:00pm – Contractions have been about every 5-7 minutes. They aren’t terribly strong yet but I didn’t want to wait too long to go into the hospital given my history with Tanis (I labored with her for only 6 hours and the doctor wasn’t even present because she came so fast at the end). We meet our doula (and my good friend) Jess at the hospital. In triage, the OB resident was on duty and she assessed me and determined I had very little progression. I was only 3 cm dilated and barely effaced. She informed me that I would be admitted and hooked up to IV fluids. I declined the IV and hep lock, to which she balked and asked the nurse, “Can she refuse that?” The nurse responded, “Absolutely.” It was at this point that I realized just how grateful I am for my birth plan, which specifically states that interns and residents are not allowed in the birthing room.
I spent a lot of time (we’re talking HOURS here!) walking the hallways after being admitted. Contractions were picking up when I walked but whenever I rested, they seemed to stall.
4:20pm – I am checked again and I am still only at a 3-4 and not much had changed in effacement either. Jess and I had a conversation about all of the stress I was putting on myself to try and have this baby born in time for Jason to make it to the funeral. I was incredibly anxious and felt awful that Jason was in this predicament. At this point, my mom performed reiki on me, while my sister administered essential oils. This was the first turning point in the labor emotionally as I realized I needed to let my expectations and my need for control go. I began to cry out of the grief that I felt for Jason’s loss.
My contractions were finally picking up in strength and I spent a lot of time walking the halls of the labor and delivery floor and on the birthing ball. I am worried though that we are going to be in for a long night with how long this labor has taken to progress.
8:00pm – I am checked again and only at a 4. Nothing has changed. Now, they are recommending Pitocin to speed up the process and told me my labor has stalled. I asked for an hour or two to try and get labor going on its own, which they were respectful of. I decide to take a long shower to try and relax. When I am finished, Jess, Jason, and I have another conversation, which turns into the pivotal turning point for me emotionally during this labor.
Jess starts the conversation by letting me know that I’m not letting anyone down. Logically, I knew this but I still couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of guilt.
Jason then told me that being at the birth of his son was the best way he could honor his father’s life. He told me that there is nothing he has ever wanted to be more than a father and he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
That was exactly what I needed to hear. I needed to know that Jason was okay with likely missing his dad’s funeral and that he was okay that our son was being born at what felt like such terrible timing. Upon further reflection, I realized, there is no such thing as good timing or bad timing with the circle of life. It just is. Our circle’s events were just running their course very closely together.
9:50pm – I am hooked up to an IV to start Pitocin as there is still no progression and I’m stuck at a 4. I feel defeated but hopeful that the Pitocin will do its job.
The OB hospitalist comes into the room to discuss pain management options with me. I had written on my birth plan that I was having a natural birth but due to the length of time that I had been in labor, he wanted to make sure that I understood my options and potential outcomes of this labor. He explained it all very well but at this point, I was still not interested in an epidural.
The Pitocin really kicks my contractions up several notches and they are right on top of each other. I can barely think and really have to focus my efforts on breathing. They are completely debilitating and I felt nothing like them with my previous labor.
Monday, April 27th, 2015
12:30am – I remember telling Jason that I don’t know how much longer I can take the contractions and that if I haven’t made any progress still, then I’m going to seriously have to consider an epidural. I am feeling exhausted at this point. I let the nurse know what I am considering and she tells me that I have to be hooked up to an IV for fluids for about an hour beforehand anyway before starting an epidural so we can see what happens in the meantime.
1:00am – I ask to be checked and I am only at a 5. I am wondering how I am going to make it through with a natural birth if this ends up taking several more hours. The pain is intense and the contractions are so close together. I am hooked up to the IV fluids to prep for the epidural.
1:50am – My contractions are even more intense than I thought possible. At the peak of each contraction, I am starting to scream. I have never felt anything like this before. I feel my body bear down now during these contractions and let the nurse know. She checks me and I am at a 7 and 90% effaced and clearly in transition.
I see a couple of other nurses start setting the room up for delivery. It seems that an epidural just wasn’t in the cards for me, which I am grateful for because I really wanted to make it through the labor without one.
1:55am – I tell them my body is bearing down hard now and I am checked again. I am now 9.5cm dilated. They tell me not to push because I have a cervical lip that can swell with pushing. I hear someone say my OB is on the way.
1:56am – I feel another strong contraction and I yell, “He’s coming!” My nurse and Jess both look to see that Jedidiah is crowning and by the end of the contraction, he was born. No pushing necessary. There wasn’t even a doctor in the room (this seems to be the Keaton way) and he slid right out onto the bed, where the nurse caught him. In a matter of 6 minutes, I went from a 7 to giving birth.
It was honestly, the most amazing experience of my life. It was much harder than my daughter’s birth but it was incredibly emotional and moving. I have never felt more support or love than I did then. Jason was a phenomenal partner. He encouraged me and was my rock. Jess provided me the guidance I needed and was incredibly supportive. My mom and my sister silently gave me the energy and release I so desperately needed.
I came out of this labor feeling honored and full of gratitude. My marriage feels stronger as a result of Jedidiah’s birth and everything we went through to bring him here with us. I have a newfound sense of appreciation for my husband. There was no way I could have labored without him there. I feel incredibly lucky to have such a strong partner and to be able to feel his love. We made it through such a difficult week with a blessing bestowed upon us. All in all, it may have been a long road to get here and a long 16 hours of labor but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.