I feel so blessed to be sitting here typing Willow’s birth story while she sleeps peacefully beside me…. but before I begin I will just begin by saying that this beautiful little girl had plans that were very very different from my birth wishes. And so here we go…
Friday afternoon I headed over to my OB appointment which was at 3:20PM. I had been contemplating all morning whether or not I would ask to have my membranes stripped because my due date was only three days away and the steel company that Dustin works at would be on shut down the following week and with the week he would take off from work I would end up with two weeks of help. I was still struggling with this decision when I arrived at the appointment because I didn’t want to use any form of induction at all and so we began by just checking to see if I was dilated at all. Dr. Willard informed me that I was 2cm dilated, but still had a very thick cervix. We decided to strip the membranes, but I was told it would most likely do nothing with how thick my cervix was and we could try again at my next appointment which was scheduled for Tuesday. I left the appointment an emotional wreck. When I got to Dustin I just let out a good cry because I had this big feeling that the baby was going to be massive and that I was going to be pregnant for at least another week. We headed over to my parents to pick up Alleigh and Kaelyn then grabbed take out on the way home for dinner.
As we were driving home I had begun to feel contractions, but figured they weren’t going to go anywhere like the other evening. And so from 7pm until about 8:30 I continued to have these contractions every eight to ten minutes. And then it happened…. I finally lost my mucus plug. I thought I had lost it before, but turns out this was the real deal and the other day was just a bit of extra mucus. I jumped in the shower and continued to have contractions. When I got out I laid down in bed to watch television and time my contractions which were now 5 minutes apart. I called the OB office and they told me to head over to the hospital. I snapped one last picture of myself massively pregnant, gathered my last minute hospital bag items, waited for my sister and her boyfriend to get to my house to stay with the girls while they slept, then Dustin and I headed over to the hospital.
I was immediately taken up to Labor and Delivery at the hospital where I was checked and found out I was now 5cm with a very thin cervix. And so that meant that stripping the membranes actually had worked! I was amazed.
My birth wishes had included having basically no medical intervention and so after being checked by the resident OB I was given one bag of fluid and then that was removed and I only had the heploc. I was allowed to stay off the monitors and walk around the room to labor as I wished. The plan was to every so often check me and then stay on the monitors for a while and then come back off of them. When I was checked at around 4am I had made it to 6cm, but baby girls head was still rather high and my bag of water was really low… basically hanging down out of the cervix. From this point on they did not want me to get out of bed because if my water broke and the umbilical cord descended below Willow’s head we would have had a serious chance of losing her. And so I sat in bed and attempted to breathe through the contractions while grasping the bed rails, trying different positions, having Dustin press on my lower back…. but they were getting super strong. There was hardly any down time and during one of the contractions around 6am I leaned to grab the bed rail felt a big pop and then my water gushed out. The good news was the water was clear, but I was still at 6cm. At this point I called the birth photographer to come out and Dustin headed home to get the girls dressed and bring them to the hospital because everyone including the resident OB thought things would begin moving very fast.
My mom and grandma had been with me throughout the night, but then my dad showed up too. He gave me a hug and was whispering to me about how it would not be failing myself to have an epidural. I admit I was in a lot of pain, but I really really did not want to have an epidural at that point. I had dealt with twelve hours of contractions with no epidural and the end was in sight now that my water had broke, but then I heard a little voice in my head just repeating to me that I needed to have the epidural. My original thought was that I wanted to have the epidural because when my girls arrived and saw the amount of pain I was in I could sense they were a bit scared and I wanted them to be comfortable in the delivery room…. and so everyone left the room and I received the epidural. The epidural went fine and I had no complications from it whatsoever. Soon the only thing I felt was extreme pressure from Willow transitioning and when checked immediately after receiving the epidural found out I was at 10cm – time to push!!
Everyone that I wanted in the room came back in…. and let’s say that was quite a large amount of people. Dustin, my mom, grandma, sister, Alleigh, Kaelyn, my mother-in-law, photographer, plus all of the doctors and nurses. It was now 9am and I had been awake for about 26 hours – 7 of which were intense contractions that had completely exhausted me. But I remembered pushing for short amount of time with Alleigh and Kaelyn so I was sure I could do it and so we started. I pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed for an hour and fifteen minutes with barely any progress. Baby girl just didn’t want to come down completely. Finally Dr. Willard gave me two options – we try the vacuum or we go directly to the operating room for an emergency c-section. At that point my photographer had to stop taking pictures. And though I didn’t want to do it we tried the vacuum because I really really didn’t want to have a c-section. I pushed through three contractions with the vacuum with all my might. No progress.
I began crying because I knew the only other option. I was going to have a c-section and they immediately began prepping me. Tears were pouring down my face everyone was leaning in to give me hugs and kisses and I could see the fear and concern in their faces though they were trying to hide it. I remember being wheeled into the super bright operating room and just wanting my husband. I was moved over to the operating table and strapped down all over the place including my arms. And that is when I start vomiting because my blood pressure had dropped. Vomiting while laying on your back and having your arms strapped down is ridiculously hard and my mouth kept getting suctioned out. I was asked if I could feel anything and when I said no I found out the initial incision had been made. I looked to my left and wanted to know where my husband was and that is when he came in the room. He sat beside me and held my hand. I whispered to him that I was sorry and he told me I did everything I could and there was nothing else I could do….. I knew this was the truth, but I was still devastated.
Fourteen minutes after I entered the operating at 9:59am Willow Jean Harper emerged into the world weighing 8 pounds 9.5 ounces and measuring 19 inches long. There was lots of tugging and pulling to get her out because I had pushed her down for an hour and 15 minutes then the vacuum had been used to also pull her further. The sweetest sound I have ever heard was her crying and then I got to see her beautiful face.
We came to find out she was trying to come into the world forehead first instead of from the top of her head. Needless to say that wide forehead was never going to fit that way and her size on top of that would have made it difficult, but perhaps possible if she was coming out the correct way. Once she was cleaned off they handed her to Dustin and I finally got to touch my baby girl for the first time. It was a moment I will never forget.
It took a good forty minutes or so to stitch me back closed and then I was taken to recovery. Willow immediately latched on and nursed like a pro. I was so happy because the entire time I was waiting for them to finish putting me back together Dustin was holding her and I could see her little tongue thrusting out and she kept turning her head looking for her food source. And it just so happened that food source was strapped down to a table with my insides getting put back where they belonged. I was so tired and could barely lift my arms but we successfully nursed for a good thirty minutes and then Dustin took her to meet the family. After I finished my time in recovery I joined everyone in my hospital room and was just so happy to be done with that ordeal and have a healthy happy baby in my arms.
I’m in pain. Lots of pain. My lower back and tailbone hurt from a long intense labor and then pushing for the hour and fifteen minutes especially when I am sitting down. My lower stomach hurts intensely where my incision is mostly when I am up and walking around. I am taking pain meds for those things, but the important thing is Willow is healthy and she is nursing great. Oh and I also came to find out that my red blood cell count was very low. This lead to being given an IV bag of iron and when that did not bring my counts up… in fact they dropped more…. I had to be given a blood transfusion on Sunday morning which took a good four hours. That completely wore me out, but finally around 2pm I was able to get a shower and that brought some life back to me. We had quite a few visitors today including family and friends. Plus my friend Tiffany took some beautiful pictures of the entire family together.
It was a long two days…. but I am so thankful to have my beautiful healthy Willow Jean in my arms now regardless of how she decided to come into the world. It definitely wasn’t what I had planned, but everything worked out. And for that I am oh so thankful.