An EPIC Labor: Rowan’s Birth Story

Ames’s labor and delivery was interesting. In the months leading up to Rowan’s (formally known as EPIC) birth, we had to decide if I would pursue a VBAC or schedule a C-section. We kept going back and forth but one thing was consistent, let’s not have this birth be “blog worthy” like his brother’s.

Around 36 weeks I was done being pregnant; my hips hurt from sleeping on my side so much and I was ready to wear real pants again. At my 38 weeks appointment I had not progressed much, and I was sure I was never going into labor–except my doctor had just left the country on a cruise so I was pretty much guaranteed to go into labor that week because that’s how things work isn’t it?

Sure enough, that night I started feeling contractions, but as I had never felt contractions without pitocin, I wasn’t sure if they were real. So, we kept going with our evening routine, snuggled up together as a family of three to read books to Ames— I thought, “this might be our last time to read together, just the three of us.”

Well, Colton read and I clocked contractions. By the 4th contraction that was ten minutes apart, Colton hopped out of bed and got dressed. I was on all fours because that felt better than laying down, and Ames was rightly confused.

I told him baby brother was coming, his response?

“Oh no!”

He snuggled up underneath me and stared while I breathed through the contraction, wondering where baby brother was.

“Well bud, I have to push him out.”

“Ok, push!”

Apparently my five-year-old was all ready to play doctor. “We gotta go to the hospital to push him out.”

After sending him off to grandma’s, we headed to the hospital, for what I was sure would be the longest drive to Fort Worth ever. Colton and I quickly fell into the routine of me having a contraction, making a weird noise to get through it, Colton laughing at said noise, me telling him to “shut up” (sorry mom), and then us both laughing. Who would have thought blowing raspberries would work as a coping mechanism for contractions?

Well I’m glad we left when we did because I was seriously second guessing myself when we pulled out of our drive, but half way to Fort Worth, my contractions went from 10 minutes apart to 5.

We get to the hospital and go through triage, where they confirm that I am in fact in labor—thank the Lord, because if they had told me I was still just 4 cm I would have been so annoyed.

I met the of first of four—yes, four—OBs that I would interact with during my brief stay, and she encouraged me to go ahead an get an epidural in case I had to get a c-section. Now at this point, I’m a little concerned she’d pull the trigger too soon on the c-section and the obstinate part of me did’t want to get an epidural just because the doctor wanted me to. Since my only experience with contractions were induced ones, I really wanted to see how long I could go without any intervention.

That obstinacy disappeared when we got to our L&D room and a contraction hit so hard my entire body shook as I stood—because laying down was worse—but couldn’t quite stand because it felt like period cramps in my back and a vice on groin muscles.

Was that TMI? Well, it’s a birth story folks and I’m not sure what details may slip out, so if you’re a bit squeamish you might want to head on over to the archives and find less potentially graphic post.

Any who, once that contraction hit, I was all for the epi!

Now epidurals are wonderful and weird things all rolled into one. Wonderful because, hey! No more painful contractions. Weird because you can wiggle your toes but have next to no control on anything in between; except you don’t really notice this lack of feeling (cause moving toes) so you try to do simple things like roll over, only to discover that you can move nothing below your fifth rib—this became especially funny/annoying later when pushing and my right foot kept slipping off the support because I had zero control, the left at least could mind its manners.

Now an unfortunate side effect of epidurals, at least for myself, is constant shivering. The only remote comfort I had was for the nurse to pile heated blanket after heated blanket on me, but the shakes still kept me up, so I didn’t manage to fall asleep until near 3 AM, and then I slept for a whole whopping hour.

Then the morning shift came and we had to say goodbye to our nurse, which I was reluctant to lose because she was chill and from Tarleton, so we could bond over college, and Stephenville, and we could have conversations whenever she came to help me change which leg I had support with this fancy birthing ball that’s proven to shorten labor—when Colton heard that on the maternity tour he insisted I order it.

Our morning shifts nurses were an honest ray of sunshine. Seriously those girls were chipper. They came in with the third OB of our time in L&D (the second one was barely there and I don’t know if I ever heard her name). He, just like the previous two docs, asked why I had to have a C-section and by now I was getting super concise with that story.

By now, I was exhausted and STARVING, a girl can convince herself ice chips are food for only so long. So, when the nurses came back later to say the new OB who was covering my doctor’s patients would be in around 10 and we’d probably push then, I was not sure I could survive another two hours on ice. Thank the Lord the doctor came in only moments later, a quiet woman with long grey hair and German descent; she did a quick check and declared me ready to push.

The nurses got into action getting the room ready, and we put on some more energetic toons. If you know you’re going to be in the hospital for a while, bring a Bluetooth speaker. Whenever someone came in the room, they commented how nice it was in the room simply because of the music we had playing. While we attempted sleep it was some calm piano music we play for Ames at night, when morning came we switched it up to our jazz playlist (something we now listen to daily since it’s been requested Rowan develop perfect pitch and apparently that’s how you do it); once it came time for the action we put on Earthsuit, the head nurse requested we turn it up so she could her “One Time” better.

Now with Ames, I only pushed twice before I was told to stop because he was in distress. As I went through the process of pushing for reals this time, I will say that if you want a cheering squad of people in the room (or waiting room) then good for you, but there is nothing glamorous about labor, and I wouldn’t want anyone to bear witness other than my husband (who had strict instructions to not look down there) and our fabulous nurses who discreetly disposed of anything I pushed out that definitely not a baby.

After multiple rounds of Earthsuit’s first album we switched to For King and Country, because we decided he needed to be born while “Joy” was playing. And after confirming with the nurses I could have outside food once I delivered, I began giving Colton food orders in between rounds of pushing since one of our favorite restaurants just happened to be down the street from the hospital (totally not planned but I was definitely happy when I realized it).

Then the doctor came and it was time to get the show on the road.

She was quiet, softly telling me when to push; Colton would kiss my forehead and telling I was doing so good and was beautiful (and also dropping my right leg on occasion, because right leg literally had no control). Our nurses kept cheering me on, saying I was almost there and just needed one more—which I was mentally questioning because I had been “almost there” for a while. I had been pushing for nearly three hours with only one or two breaks and part of me was starting to question if I could do this, but I guess I had made it because the doctor told me to take a big breath, hold, and push.

Out popped a baby, and a whole bunch of liquid (told you, not glamorous). The doctor held up scissors for Colton to cut the cord. I looked at Colton because I knew he was indifferent to cutting the cord himself, saw that he was crying, and wondered what the doctor was thinking letting him have scissors near our newborn when he was clearly visually and emotionally impaired. Fortunately, she showed him exactly where to cut.

They laid Rowan on my chest and got to work tidying up. I asked our nurses if they wanted to update the info board in our room with the baby’s name; they were both so excited because they would be the first ones to hear his real name now that he was born.

After laboring for nearly 18 hours, pushing for 3 (and he crowned for 10 minutes)—when the room was cleaned and cleared, I relaxed with Rowan on my chest, Colton propped up my phone and we watched Final Table on Netflix, and ate the most amazing turkey and mayo sandwich I’ve had in my life.

Thanks to Marian Jacobs for snapping some photos of the three of us during her visit

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