Jackson's Birth Story

Jackson Lee Harwood’s Birth Story
Jackson was born at 4:28 a.m. on Saturday, April 9, 2011.  He weighed 8 pounds, 15 ounces and measured 21.75 inches long.  He has a beautiful head full of thick, dark brown hair and vibrant blue eyes.  We were able to achieve a natural, unmedicated birth with the exception of IV antibiotics for Group Strep B and a dose of Zofran for nausea.  Here is our story:
I had been having labor signs for two weeks prior to the big day, beginning with 5 hours of intense back labor, regular cramping, loss of mucus plug, and bloody show.  My 40 week check up on Monday, April 4 revealed that I was 3 cm dilated and fully effaced.  My obstetrician asked if I wanted to schedule an induction date for Thursday, April 7, but I declined.  After attending 12 weeks of Bradley classes, my husband and I were dedicated to a natural, unmedicated childbirth.  The OB agreed to allow me more time and scheduled a non-stress test and ultrasound for that Thursday.  We scheduled induction for the following Thursday, April 14, though everyone at the office felt confident that I would deliver before that date.  On Thursday, April 7 the ultrasound indicated a healthy 8 and 1/2 pound baby with plenty of amniotic fluid.  The non-stress test proved that Jackson had a strong heartbeat and confirmed that I was having no contractions (with the exception of a small jump on the monitor when I sneezed). 
Early Labor:
My husband left for work as usual at 6 a.m. on Friday, April 8.  I got up feeling lots of pressure and the need to use the bathroom, though I was unable to.  I went back to bed and awoke again at 6:15 with the same feeling.  Still unable to use the restroom, I laid back down, only to wake up at 6:30.  Around 6:45 I identified this cramping and pressure as contractions.  I decided to take a shower at 7 a.m. to see if the contractions would stop.  After my shower, I felt contractions like clockwork every 10 minutes.  I went downstairs to eat breakfast.  I realized something was different because for the first time, I was able to time my contractions and actually recorded the times on paper for an hour.  Contractions and back pressure had intensified to every 5-7 minutes, lasting 45 seconds each.  I left to go to my scheduled chiropractor appointment, which had helped with proper alignment throughout pregnancy, at 9:30 a.m.  Contractions continued while driving, though they spaced out significantly after my readjustment. 
Around 10:30 a.m.  I drove to Gastonia with the intention of meeting my sister for lunch.  I decided to go to the local park to take advantage of the gorgeous weather.  I walked two miles and the contractions reappeared at more frequent intervals.  I suddenly wished to be alone and I went to my favorite Chinese restaurant to eat lunch.  I ate wonton soup, sesame chicken, and fried rice and drank three glasses of water.  I had to stop eating several times simply to breathe through the back pain, but I was hungry.  After finishing lunch around 12:30 p.m., my sister called me while I was headed back to the parking lot.  I told her I was having regular contractions and had been for the past four hours.  Both of my sisters told me to meet them at one of their homes.
For the next few hours, I leaned behind the couch and swayed, did pelvic rocks, and tried anything and everything I could think of to get comfortable.  I texted my husband and told him I was having regular contractions and back labor.  My sisters applied pressure on my back and gave me a heating pad to use.  We informally chatted, though I found it difficult to concentrate on conversation.
I drove back home around 3 p.m. but decided to stop at Concord Mills to walk.  I knew walking was the best thing to do in early labor, so I walked two laps (two miles) around the mall.  It took me an entire hour to walk and I stopped to lean over at every other kiosk.  I texted my husband again and told him contractions were getting more difficult.  At this time, I knew I was going to have a baby within the next day.  After 9 hours of regular contractions that only subsided for 30 minutes, I was confident that this was the real deal!  I felt very calm but wanted to be alone and breathe.  I stopped at Orange Julius and ordered a protein smoothie thinking this would be the last thing I would eat and knowing I would need some energy.  I took a few sips but instantly felt nauseous.  I drove back home around 4:15 p.m.
At home, I tried to take advantage of the birthing ball and various positions, but the back pain was beginning to become unbearable.  My husband was stuck in traffic and did not come home until 5:30 p.m.  I was lying on my side in bed.  When he came in I told him to finish packing the bags and get ready!  Contractions were every 3-5 minutes apart.  He got last minute things together and told me that we needed to eat before we left.  He drove to Bojangles and returned with dinner at 6:30.  I thought I could eat mashed potatoes but the nausea, constant contractions, and back pain prevented me from even opening the container.  My husband (who had not seen me since 6 a.m.) wanted to wait to go to the hospital and kept telling me we needed to labor more at home.  I felt like it was time so we left around 7:30 p.m.
Active Labor: At The Hospital
I called my doctor’s office to notify them that we were on the way to the hospital.  Because it was after hours, we spent 15 minutes listening to automated messages, being put on hold, and talking to the on call nurse.  I gave my husband the phone because I could not speak and was gripping the door handle for dear life during contractions.  It was impossible to alleviate the back pressure while sitting in a car!  There were no open “mother in labor” parking spots so we drove up a level and I walked down, around, and to the labor and delivery registration.  After being told we would need to walk all the way back to a triage room I finally broke down crying and accepted a wheelchair. 
We waited in triage from 8:30-9:30 p.m.  I changed into a hospital gown.  The nurse checked me and I was 4 cm and 100% effaced.  I cried because I thought for sure I would be farther along!  I was required to lay flat on my back hooked up to the machine to monitor contractions and Jackson’s heart rate.  Three different nurses attended to us and we had to answer redundant questions.  I squirmed and cried and confessed to my husband that I wasn’t sure I could do this without medicine.  He told me to breathe and was very calm and reassuring.  Contractions were every 2-3 minutes apart the entire hour, lasting 45-60 seconds.  Little did I know that contractions would continue at the same interval and increasing intensity for the next seven hours!
At 9:30 p.m. I was finally admitted and wheeled to a labor and delivery suite.  We notified my sisters and in-laws that I was admitted and they could head to the hospital.  Because I tested positive for Group B Strep, the nurse inserted the hep-lock and began administering the first dose of antibiotics at 10 p.m.  I was again hooked up to the monitor to check contractions and Jackson’s heart rate.  Family members arrived.  We kept the lights off and I could only tolerate whispering.  We brought our own music, but the iPod dock at the hospital wasn’t working.  As soon as the antibiotics were finished I was taken off the monitor and allowed to move around.  I requested a birth ball and attempted to use it but found that the back pain only intensified.  I was also uncomfortable trying hands and knees position using the ball.  The nurse continuously encouraged me to drink water (since I had refused IV fluids) but I felt so nauseous.  The one and only pain medication I received was Zofran for the nausea, though it was only temporary relief.
At 1 a.m. I asked if I could go in the Jacuzzi.  The nurse said she needed to check me to make sure I was making progress because the water might stall labor.  My family went behind the curtain and the nurse informed me that I was 7 cm!  She prepared the tub and went to get me popsicles.  I spent an hour in the warm water.  The contractions were just as painful but I was better able to relax in between contractions in the water.  Before we went to the tub, the nurse offered me a popsicle. I didn’t want a popsicle, but she insisted that I try one or I wouldn’t have the energy to continue laboring.  I ate half of it, but the sweetness made me feel even more nauseous.
When not in the tub, my sisters and husband took turns applying pressure to my lower back and giving me their fist to squeeze.  I continued to mumble, “I don’t know,” because I just didn’t know what to do or how to alleviate the pressure.  This wasn’t exactly a positive mantra, but it gave me something to focus on and I kept saying that with every deep breath.  We were past the point of any relaxation techniques as I just became trance like and tried to focus on each contraction.  The only thing that offered relief was enormous pressure applied to my back.  While I received my second dose of antibiotics I suffered through 20 minutes of fetal monitoring.  This was extremely difficult because I had to lie down while being monitored.
At 2:30 I felt the need to use the bathroom but couldn’t.  I was shaking and felt like I was going to throw up at the peak of every contraction (which was literally every other minute)!  The nurse checked me again at 3 a.m. and I was fully dilated.  My sisters and in-laws left (as we had previously agreed to) so I could begin the pushing stage.  My bag of waters had still not ruptured and the pressure was absolutely unbearable.  I did not have any desire to push though the nurse continued to ask me to do practice pushes.  This was by far the lowest point in my labor and I cried, crossed my legs, and refused.  I felt so disappointed in myself and was worried that I was letting my husband down.  I kept telling the staff to get him out of me and the nurse reassured me that the only way that would happen was if I pushed!  At the time, I was more than willing for the staff to use forceps, a vacuum, or even cut him out of me.
After 45 minutes of pitiful pushes and overwhelming sense of defeat, my water broke on its own at 3:43 a.m.  For the first time, I had the urge to push.  The nurse called the doctor in and other staff members came in to set up the delivery table and bring in various equipment.  The nurse placed my legs in stirrups and took the end off of the table.  This was not the position I had envisioned myself in during the pushing stage, but I was beyond exhausted.  The nurse was on one side and my husband was on the other side.  I had no concept of how far I was until the nurse asked if I wanted to feel the baby’s head.  Regretfully, I cried and said, “Just get him out of me.” 
The burning sensation was indescribable and once I felt the baby crowning my body literally could not stop pushing.  Jackson was born just minutes later.  Jackson was immediately placed on my chest and I could see his beautiful eyes and hear his grunts and cries.  The doctor delayed cord cutting.  My hep-lock had been ripped out at some point during delivery and my wrist was bleeding, which ended up being a positive thing because I was able to avoid the routine IV following birth.  They gave me an injection in my right thigh immediately after delivery to help my uterus contract.  My husband cut the umbilical cord.  He was so amazed at how thick it was.
Third Stage and After:
After a gentle push my placenta came out and the doctor began stitches to repair the second degree tear I received.  Jackson had swallowed a lot of mucus and the nurse suctioned him while he lay on my chest.  After about 20 minutes the nurses took him to be weighed, measured, and wipe him off.  (He did not receive eye drops, shots, or bath at this time.)  My husband held him for the first time and cried.  Jackson was placed back on my chest to help regulate his breathing.  At 5 a.m. we asked my family to come back in and were able to introduce them to our son.  Jackson was extremely alert the entire time.  Thanks to the guidance of my sisters and Jackson being a natural at latching, I was able to breastfeed for 50 minutes (5:40 a.m. - 6:30 a.m.).  After his first feeding I allowed the nurse to bathe Jackson and give him his eye drops while another nurse helped me to the restroom to get cleaned up. 
The experience was everything I had planned for but could have never anticipated.  I am so thankful both my husband and I were prepared and knowledgeable about natural childbirth and I am very proud of our commitment despite the intense pain and doubt.  I had amazing support from family members and was able to listen and trust them when I felt as if I couldn’t bear another contraction. 

And So Motherhood Begins...