Nashville Birth Photography | Llewyn
One of my best friends had a baby! It was my greatest honor to be with her as she welcomed him into her arms.
By Sunday, February 11th I was 11 days overdue and getting very discouraged. I started having contractions in the morning but they tapered off by the afternoon. On Monday morning, I went into Baby + Co. to have the midwife check the baby and strip my membranes for the 4th time to get this baby out. Kyle and I both really liked the midwife on duty and we were hoping Llewyn would come while she was still working. I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced which was encouraging, however, if I wasn't in active labor by Tuesday evening, I was going to be induced by 8pm at Vanderbilt Hospital and wouldn't be able to have him at Baby + Co.
Sure enough, Monday evening, I started having contractions just before dinner. They picked up around 8pm and I was in pretty active labor by 9pm. I labored in the shower for as long as the hot water lasted. After I got out of the shower I wanted to move to the tub upstairs (knowing that I had just used all the hot water). My husband, Kyle, set up the bath and had two pots and a tea kettle boiling on the stove and ran up and down the stairs to keep the bath hot. I would tell him right when a contraction would start so that he could sit with me through it. I had thrown up in the shower and in the tub due to the pain (and eating a decent size dinner that I would immediately regret). Kyle was texting our doula, Andrea Hewitt and Andrea asked if we needed support at the house. Kyle texted "I don't think Sarah does, but I do!". She headed over right away and was such a great support for us both at home before we headed to Baby + Co. My dad drove Kyle and me while my mom drove our car with the carseat. I remember struggling to decide when we should leave. I was nervous that we would get to Baby + Co. and wouldn't be far enough along to stay. Kyle and I were in the backseat -- I was on my knees with my head on Kyle's lap struggling through 5-6 contractions during the 15 minute drive. Once we arrived, my dad helped me out of the car and I could barely walk in (I had a contraction while standing in the entrance). Jen Johnson (our midwife), met us at the door and checked my progress in the birthing room. She said that I could stay but I was nervous that I hadn't progressed enough and that she was just hoping that I would progress quickly over the next few hours. I was only 5cm when she checked but I was encouraged that I didn't have to go home.
I labored on a stool in the shower for a couple of hours while holding onto Kyle. They have a tankless water heater that was so amazing for a 2 hour hot shower during contractions. I moved to the bed for a bit and remember contractions kicking up a notch and wondering if I was going to be able to make it. I knew that if I had to be transferred to Vanderbilt I would have most likely received Pitocin (to be induced) and I would have opted for an epidural (anyone who has had Pitocin knows that a natural birth is nearly impossible) and I could avoid feeling all of this. But here I was, getting the birth that I had prayed so hard for -- enduring every ounce of pain and pressure.
I labored in the tub for a while and remember my mom's soft hands as she comforted me during each contraction. She also used the sprayer on the tub on my back and head to give me some relief. They kept having to empty the tub and add new hot water to keep it warm. I remember feeling the sensation of them reaching between my legs and wishing so badly that they were reaching in to catch this baby (I was probably only 7-8cm at this point so that wasn't going to happen). One of the midwives suggested I move to the bed since my body temperature was rising quite a bit from the hot water. I threw up again once I reached the bed and remember wondering how I had anything left to throw up and being surprised how much came out. The midwives tried to give me an IV since I was so dehydrated but my veins were so small and kept rolling. After six tries, we decided to try and hydrate with water as much as possible in between contractions.
Right after transition, I immediately had the urge to push and felt like he was about to pop out. I started pushing around 6:30am and remember the midwifes and nurse giving me clear instructions on how to relax my face and neck as much as possible during pushes to conserve energy. I only opened my eyes a few times in the 11 hours or so of labor and barely spoke unless I needed something. I became really internal and focused so much on each contraction remembering to lean into each one as I knew it would bring me that much closer to holding my baby boy.
Llewyn's heart rate was great the whole time which was extremely encouraging and helped me focus on each contraction and pushing. I spent a few contractions on the birthing stool but he didn't move very much so I moved to the bed on my back. Jen and Heather (my midwives) were such incredible coaches during each push. Jen asked if I wanted to feel his head between a contraction. I reached down and remember crying and completely losing focus as I could feel the tip of Llewyn's head for the first time. After that, I didn't want to feel him as I knew I would just crumble, it was so emotional.
On my last contraction, I remember the exact feeling of pushing his head and rest of his body out. The pain was so intense but even more than that, the feeling of each part of his body coming out was such a strange, specific release. Once he came out, Jen placed him on my chest and I could not believe he was here. I distinctly remember Kyle crying and laughing and knowing our little family of three was complete.
Five hours after Llewyn was born, Kyle and I were home resting with our new baby boy. I couldn't stop reflecting on the amazing miracle that just took place. I had a new respect for women and the way our bodies work. To be 100% transparent, if you had asked me that evening if I would would opt for an epidural on the next birth, I would probably say yes. A few days after he was born, however, I could look back on the entire experience and wouldn't change a thing. Our bodies are made in such a way that we can endure such incredible pain for such a beautiful purpose.