Jace Michael was born on March 30th, 2022 at 9:25 at night, at 38 weeks and 3 days. He weighed 5lbs 15oz and was 19 inches long at birth. His birth was such a healing experience for me.
My entire pregnancy I felt that Jace would arrive early and 38 weeks was always on my heart… well, my feeling was right! I was a bit shocked, though. I had absolutely no huge signs of labor at the start of 38 weeks and I was feeling a bit bummed because I was feeling so ready to have him.
We were trying to figure out a time for my mother-in-law to come down before Jace’s arrival so she could be with Taya when it was baby time. I originally wanted to wait until 39 weeks to have her come down because I wasn’t having any labor signs and I wanted those last days with Taya. But on Monday afternoon, I just had a feeling hit me and I decided that it’d be a good idea if she came down the next day, Tuesday, March 29th.
MARCH 29TH – CONTRACTIONS START
I still had no signs of labor at the start of March 29th. It felt like any usual day during my pregnancy. I drank my red raspberry leaf tea, bounced on my birthing ball, and spent time with Taya. Late in the afternoon, I thought I had noticed that my bump had dropped but honestly, it was hard to tell since I carry low to begin with. The second my mother-in-law arrived she commented on how low I looked, which started to get my hopes up!
Once Michael got home from work, we decided to go out to dinner at Outback just the two of us. Our closest Outback is about 50 minutes away so it’s a bit of a drive. On our way out there, I noticed my Braxton Hicks were starting to be a bit crampy. I didn’t mention anything to Mike then because I didn’t want him to freak out, haha. They were very sporadic and honestly, I was in denial that they were contractions because I literally had no other signs until then.
At dinner, I must have made a face during one of the contractions because Mike asked me, “you’re having a contraction right now, aren’t you?” YEP! I certainly was. If you’re familiar at all with my first pregnancy, I had prodromal labor for a whole week before giving birth to Taya. So, while I was excited to be getting contractions, my hopes weren’t up too high because I know they could go on for days or weeks. The contractions started to get closer together on our way home and throughout the night, but they weren’t that consistent.
I started timing them around 10:30 pm when I laid down and I ended up not sleeping at all. I think I was too excited to sleep! When I was resting, the contractions were getting closer together (5 minutes apart) and were getting stronger.
MARCH 30TH – WATER BROKE
My water broke at 3:00 am on the dot. I went to switch positions in bed and felt a little gush of liquid, so I got out of bed to head to the bathroom. More fluid kept coming and it was slightly blood-tinged. I knew it was my water! It was a bit of a rush! My water didn’t break on its own with Taya, so it was neat to experience this time. My contractions were getting closer and closer together at this point – about 2-3 minutes apart but the contractions weren’t long. On average, they were about 25-30 seconds long. While they were increasing in strength, they were quite mild.
I woke up Mike to let him know that my water broke and let him get some extra sleep while I got ready. I freshened up my hair and put some light makeup on to make me feel good. I had such excitement and peace while I was getting ready.
ARRIVED AT THE HOSPITAL
I was always under the impression that once your water breaks and your contractions are close together that you should go to the hospital. So, that’s what we did. We got into my labor room at 5:00 am. I had the sweetest nurse who reviewed my birth plan and she asked questions so that she was on the same page as me. The coolest thing? She also has a son named Jace! When she shared that, I just had such peace. What are the odds?!
One of the resident OBs came in to check my cervix and to confirm that it was my water that broke. They take a sample of the liquid and send it to the lab to confirm. At that time, I was barely dilated 1cm. My heart sank. I couldn’t believe it.
At this point, my contractions started slowing down… 5 minutes apart, 10 minutes apart, and so on. When the resident OB came in to confirm that my water did break she started talking about induction methods. Let’s just say I wasn’t too thrilled to be having this conversation a few hours after my water broke… and after OBs tried to pressure me into induction for a whole month leading up to then. I told her flat out that I didn’t want to entertain any options to speed up my labor for a long time. I wanted my body to have a chance and time to do its thing.
WANTED TO GO HOME
As I mentioned earlier, I always thought that once contractions were close together and your water had broke that you have to go to the hospital sooner than later. Well, I wish I had waited it out longer at home. Unfortunately, there was no way that I could’ve known my contractions would start to regress. I really wanted to go home because I originally wanted to labor at home as long as I could. I was already admitted at that point. I’m sure I could’ve fought to go home but Mike and I decided it was best and easiest to just stay rather than to add stress to the situation.
I was extremely discouraged. I had a new nurse at this point who was really nice but I was hooked up to the monitor, which I shared in the birth preferences that I did not want unless medically necessary. My contractions were far apart and I just felt defeated. It was hard to not dwell on the negative possibilities. I’m grateful for Mike… he was encouraging and kept speaking life and truth over me. He was truly my anchor throughout my whole labor, but especially those moments when I needed encouragement.
MIDWIFE ON SHIFT – 10:00 am
There usually aren’t midwives on during the night shift, so I was happy that one of my favorite midwives was on during the day. She came in to chat with me about what we would try to do naturally before having to entertain any options to speed up labor – pitocin. She checked my cervix and I was only at 1.5 cm. I had her stretch me to 2.5 cm to try to encourage contractions to pick back up again. They did start to pick back up but they were sporadic. My midwife said she’d give me until around 1:00 pm to see if I was progressing at a good rate and if I wasn’t, we would need to talk about the possibility of starting a low dose of pitocin to encourage contractions along.
She then told the nurse to get me off the monitors so I could have the freedom to move as I wanted. I was SO thankful for this! This was what I wanted – freedom during my labor (as long as Jace and I were stable, of course).
Over those next 3 hours, I did everything I could to get my body going. I did nipple stimulation through pumping, the miles circuit, birthing ball exercises, resting with the peanut ball, and walking around. I tried my best to keep myself calm and positive during those hours but it definitely was hard at moments. My contractions would start to pick up and then they’d regress again. Some were a minute apart… some were 6 minutes apart… then back to 2 minutes apart. It was all over the place.
1:45 PM – CERVIX CHECK
My midwife gave my body some extra time to do its thing, which meant so much to me. She checked my cervix again and I barely progressed over the almost 4 hours… I was only 3 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and at -1 station. It was not what I wanted to hear at all.
We talked about my options but she strongly suggested trying a low dose of pitocin to start and then increasing it if my body still was not progressing on its own. Now, if my water hadn’t broken almost 12 hours before, I would’ve been sent home and not admitted. Once your water breaks, it’s ideal to deliver the baby within those first 24 hours because infection risk increases after the first 24 hours. Since I felt I was a bit on the clock at this point, I agreed to try pitocin. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I wanted to avoid pitocin at all costs! It increases contractions but makes them way more painful than they are on their own, which can lead to unplanned interventions.
2:15 PM – STARTED PITOCIN
Once they started me on a low dose of pitocin, I had to be hooked back up to the monitors again. I still had good room to move as I wanted to, though. I continued on with the miles circuit, peanut ball, and birthing ball. The pitocin did help my contractions along but it was a slow process at first. They kept increasing the pitocin every 30 minutes.
By 3:00 pm, my contractions were really consistent and about 3 – 4 minutes apart. They were so consistent that I stopped tracking them on the app that I used. By 5:00 pm, the contractions were quite painful. They were way more painful than any contractions that I had with Taya, so I was hoping that meant my cervix was progressing well. I was hoping this meant baby time was close, especially since my midwife was only on until 7:00 pm.
Mike was so incredible helping me through each contraction. Sometimes I needed counterpressure on my lower back and sacrum, and other times I needed him to hold ice on my lower back or neck. I kept focused on my breathing – I used the up breathing method (breathe in for 4 seconds, breathe out for 8 seconds) and it definitely helped keep me calm and focused. I also had my labor playlist on full of some of my favorite worship songs. While contractions were strong, I welcomed them and looked forward to each one. Each one meant I was getting closer and closer to meeting my baby.
5:30 PM – CERVIX CHECK
Since my contractions were very strong, I wanted my midwife to check my cervix one more time. I was praying so hard to hear that my body progressed a ton. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I had only dilated to 4cm and was still only 80% effaced and at -1 station. I couldn’t believe it. I was in disbelief that I was progressing so slowly. I started to get frustrated with myself and how things were going. The contractions were so intense and I was exhausted. I was feeling faint. I wanted to keep on fighting to stay unmedicated but at that point, I needed to consider all of my options.
I was really aiming for an unmedicated birth experience this time. I almost had a fully unmedicated experience with Taya but since I was diagnosed preeclamptic with her, I was talked into the epidural to help with our blood pressure and heart rates. My experience with the epidural was not positive. It didn’t work on half of my body and it gave me temporary nerve damage months after. I really did not want the epidural and I certainly did not want any other pain medication. However, while the epidural didn’t fully take during my labor with Taya, it did help my body progress quickly.
Mike and I talked about the epidural. I started to consider it. I felt that if I kept progressing slowly and I got past the 24-hour point of my water breaking without good progress or delivery that things would probably go downhill fast. I wanted to avoid that at all costs. While I am a “scrunchy” mama who leans toward keeping things as natural as possible, let me tell you – I do not believe in “pain-free” birth, haha. Yes, it’s all about mindset but labor does involve pain… but it’s pain with a purpose! Anyway, hearing that I was only at 4 cm and my contractions were so strong already, I decided to give the epidural another shot. I didn’t want to but I felt it was the right choice considering that my body wasn’t cooperating at all.
7:00 PM – EPIDURAL
I was nervous to get the epidural. Not because of the needle going into my back but because of the awful experience I had with it last time. It was a struggle for me to get. When the anesthesiologist came in, I had immediate peace. She was an older lady and she reminded me of a wise owl – I mean that in the sweetest way. I just knew that she knew what she was doing. I got the epidural and once it fully started to take, I knew it was going to be a positive experience this time. And it was!
At this time, the nurse from earlier in the morning was back on shift and I was so happy about it. She was by far the best nurse! She listened to me and advocated for me the entire time.
7:45 PM – PROGRESS + JACE’S HEART RATE DROPPED
I started to feel pressure in my pelvis and more specifically, my butt just before 8:00 pm. When I felt pressure in my butt during labor with Taya, it meant it was almost time to push. I requested to be checked and they agreed since it had been a while since my last check. I was 8 cm, 90% effaced, and 0 station. FINALLY. Progress! In just the short amount of time after getting the epidural my body progressed immensely. Talk about being encouraged!
Shortly after, Jace’s heart rate started to drop really low due to the pitocin making my contractions extremely intense. Everyone was so calm that I didn’t even know something was wrong at first. My nurse helped me get onto my hands and knees, and she was bent down next to me just encouraging me to focus on my breathing. It wasn’t until she asked to confirm that something similar happened with Taya’s heart rate during labor that I realized they were trying to get Jace’s heart rate to stabilize again. When his heart rate started to drop, my nurse stopped the pitocin. They got his heart rate to stabilize quite quickly. I remained off the pitocin for a good 20 minutes or so, but my contractions started to regress again. So, pitocin was started up once again. Thankfully, there were no issues with Jace’s heart rate moving forward.
Side note: Yes, Taya’s heart rate did drop low during labor with her but it wasn’t due to pitocin (I didn’t have pitocin with her). Instead, it was due to me being preeclamptic and my BP and HR being all over the place. That experience was completely traumatic. So, I was immensely grateful that it was handled calmly this time.
8:50 – TIME TO PUSH
I was really beginning to feel pressure in my butt at this point. I know that sounds funny but really, if you feel like you need to poop, there’s a good chance it’s about time to push to deliver your baby. I told the nurse and the doctor that was there and was checked and I was 9.5 cm, 100% effaced and +1 station. Since the pressure was crazy strong, I decided that I wanted to start to push. My epidural worked really well this time so it was a bit harder to find the right push even though I knew how to push. I’m really glad that even with the epidural I could feel when I needed to push. It was really important to me to push when I felt the urge to, rather than being coached.
When Jace started to crown, I got to touch his head. It was so neat and such motivation to keep going. I was so close to meeting my boy! Once his head was fully out, I pushed once more, and there he was! He was placed on my chest immediately and his cry was beautiful. Though, Mike will tell you his cry sounded like a rubber chicken, haha. We delayed all newborn procedures (weight, height, etc.) so that Jace and I could experience golden hour. Golden hour is when your baby doesn’t leave your chest and you can do skin-to-skin for the first hour of life. We did delayed cord clamping until the cord stopped pulsating and then Mike cut the cord. Within the first 10 minutes of being born, Jace started rooting (showing signs of wanting to nurse) so I initiated breastfeeding right away. He latched on right away nice and strong. I was elated!
I also got to see my placenta this time! I opted not to last time but I really wanted to this time. The OB and nurse gave me a whole tour of it and it was the neatest thing. I took a picture, too! Don’t worry, I’ll keep it to myself, haha!
I pushed for about 30 minutes and it was such a calm and exciting time! I was a bit worried that I would tear since the epidural worked so well this time, but I didn’t tear at all. By the time Jace was crowning, I could feel so much more and I really focused on being as in tune with my body as I could. I felt like I was in complete control.
A REDEMPTIVE, HEALING BIRTH
Jace’s birth was the redemptive, healing birth that I needed. While I spent my entire pregnancy focusing on going unmedicated – from hypnobirthing courses to breathing exercises, my body just didn’t want to cooperate with my desire to go unmedicated. I’m sure I’ll struggle with that a bit at some point in this postpartum period but honestly, right now, I have so much peace and am very happy with the labor and birth experience I had this time. My body didn’t want to cooperate on its own but it did cooperate with medicine, and for that, I’m grateful. It wasn’t 100% what I wanted but I was respected and heard by everyone at the hospital, I got to advocate for myself, and I got to make the proper decisions that kept both Jace and me healthy and safe. I’m proud of myself.
Jace is the most content little one and he’s such a joy! We are all adjusting really well and Taya is obsessed with him. My heart is so full. 💛