dcsbaby: Nathan's Birth Story
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 5:53 PM
"Dr. Brooks laid him on my belly and I stroked his head. I was in utter disbelief and shock, and was shaking all over. I could not believe what had just happened."
The right timing
We weren’t entirely sure we wanted children the first few years of marriage. It wasn’t until we’d been married for 5 ½ years that we felt it was “time.” God led us to just trust Him and His timing in whether I was supposed to get pregnant or not. 2009 was a difficult year for us. I had just lost a very close friend to cancer when we learned Chad’s grandfather, the man who helped raise him, had lung cancer. Disheartened, I often wondered “what next, God?” Boy, did I get a quick answer because nine months after we decided to trust God in timing the extension of our family, we found out I was pregnant. We were so excited! I knew this would be a positive turning point for everyone in our family. God truly showed us His grace and mercy and honored our faith.
I had a very good pregnancy. In fact, I really enjoyed being pregnant. I ate healthy and was as active as I could be, up until we had a scare when I was almost 30 weeks pregnant. I had some major cramping, and after a Fetal Fibronectin (fFN) test was done, it was determined I was at great risk for pre-term labor. I was told to do no more activity than was necessary and not to pick up anything over 10 lbs. Thankfully, after a repeat test 2 weeks later, I got the “ok” to resume normal activity. At that point, I decided that exercise needed to be minimal. Walking and prenatal yoga was my regimen. Thank the Lord that because of this cautionary action, my little boy decided to hang out until Saturday, June 12, the day before his actual due date.
I was convinced that I would go into labor before my due date, but we waited, and waited, and waited some more, it seems. Thursday, June 10th, I had cramping all day. I chalked it up to just cramps, as it wasn’t anything but an irritating pang here and there without any sort of regularity to it. On Friday, I experienced more of the same, only less irritating.
3 a.m. Saturday morning I was awakened to a different kind of cramp - one that I’d never experienced before. I knew this was different. After telling my husband, Chad, that contractions had started, I told him to go back to sleep while I waited it out in the living room, where I timed each one and tried to rest in between. I kept the mentality that it was “nothing” and that I could “handle this”. I remembered the horrific menstrual cramps I used to get in high school that would double me over in pain so badly that I couldn’t move. At first, none of the contractions compared to or even came close to the pain I had experienced in my adolescent years. Until three hours later, that is. I decided I needed to wake Chad up at that point, and ask him to time my contractions and to keep me company. My contractions were all over the place, never regular, but definitely gaining in frequency, pain and intensity. I paced. I made all sorts of weird noises. I breathed slowly and methodically. I leaned all over the furniture and wall while rocking back and forth (which proved to be the best thing ever to move my baby down and to help relieve some of the pain). I once decided to lie down, which was a terrible idea. The pain through that particular contraction while I was lying down was much worse than when I allowed gravity and simple movements to help me through it. Chad was amazing. He helped time contractions and encouraged me by letting me know when the end of each one was in sight, so I could focus on the relief instead of focusing on the tremendous pain.
When I found out that I was pregnant, I decided that I wanted to stay at home as long as possible for the labor. Chad and I wanted the most relaxed environment possible, with no interruptions or interventions. I am by no means a person who can handle pain easily. I was just absolutely convinced that my body was made to labor naturally, with God’s help and my husband by my side. I was also acutely aware that having a natural childbirth would greatly increase my ability to have a quicker, easier labor, reduce the possibility of complications, reduce the need for a c-section, eliminate any unnecessary drug being transferred to my baby, and help breastfeeding go more smoothly. Thanks to God, my decision to have a natural childbirth resulted in these benefits!
Once my contractions started reaching the “unbearable” stage and were finally getting closer together, I decided it was time to call the doctor and let her know we would be there soon. Around 8 a.m., Chad and I left the house. Levelheaded as always, Chad let me know I had better hurry before another contraction hit. It was too late though, and there in the driveway I stood- pacing, then finally leaning on his truck and breathing through yet another one of those awful things. Finally, I made it to the car and proceeded to have a few more contractions on the 12-minute drive to the hospital. Before we could reach labor and delivery, there came three more. The last one came at the reception desk, allowing us to avoid triage or too many obvious questions. Reception offered me a wheelchair, but I wanted to continue walking as much as I could, even though things got blurry at this point…
A feeling of being less in control, monitors, blood pressure straps, 5 people rushing in and out of the room at a time, papers being shoved in my face while I went through contraction after contraction. IV poked in my arm, woman forcing me to sign papers I had no idea what for since I was IN LABOR, for goodness sake. More poking, more prodding (“LEAVE ME ALONE!” I wanted to scream.). Then, a feeling of peace came over me when I saw my beloved Doctor Brooks. About 8:30 a.m. , I was 6 cm dilated.
In a fog
After all the poking and prodding, everyone left the room, leaving Chad and me alone for just a minute or two. In the midst of one of the most painful contractions yet, I felt a hand on my stomach. I snapped and yelled, “Get OFF me!” I didn’t know it, but Chad was praying over me and over our unborn baby. It was the sweetest moment, yet I was in a fog and had not a clue what was going on around me.
A little while later I was wet, and was told my water had broken. Soon I felt like I had to pee very, very badly. I told the nurses I needed to get up, and they told me that was fine, but I had better not have my baby in the toilet. Unfortunately, they weren’t being funny. I tried to get up but couldn’t. I sat back down in the bed and felt a strange sense of relief and, surprise of all surprises, I felt NO PAIN during transition whatsoever! The doctor was called in, and upon checking me I heard, “Complete.”
“What does that mean?” I managed.
“10 cm. It’s time to have that baby! I’m going to get dressed.”
She came back in what looked like a hazmat suit. Wow. But I didn’t have time to think. I was going to have my baby and my body was going to do whatever it had to do to get through this. The Doctor and Nurse placed me as upright as I could be, with support under my behind. I wasn’t standing, as I wished, but it was close enough.
Chad was by my side, encouraging me and holding onto me when needed. I could see my wonderful Christian doctor, whom I trusted above anyone other medical professional, standing there, waiting and watching over my unborn baby and me. I could also see the nurse. Everyone else had left, thank goodness. It was time to concentrate. It was time for me to have the hardest workout of my life. I grabbed the bars on the side of the bed and pushed away, time and time again. Not having pain relief or numbing of my lower body made everything come alive. It made every sense so clear. I knew when, I knew how, I knew where to push. It was an awesome feeling to have that kind of total control over my body. I was shocked that I was no longer in pain. It was AMAZING! The only difficulty was the strain it put on my body to push so long and so hard. I ended up with oxygen, to help keep me from hyperventilating and to keep my baby boy safe. I closed my eyes almost the entire time I pushed, putting all thoughts and efforts into pushing, not letting anything the doctor or nurse said distract me from my mission. The sweetest and most encouraging words were when I heard Chad excitedly say, “I see his head! Keep pushing. You’re doing great!” That was the best motivation for me to keep going.
Then I heard the dreaded words from my doctor (who had formerly told me episiotomy was a last result, performed by her maybe only three times a year): “I know you don’t want this, but I’m going to have to cut you.” At this point, I could not have cared less. “Just get him out,” I thought. “It doesn’t matter how.” I jumped at the incision and squealed, “Ouch!” Then I pushed a few more times and Nathan’s head was out. Wow, what a relief! I pushed again to get his shoulders out, and then the rest of his body slid right out… what a HUGE relief! I felt the room spinning. Dr. Brooks laid him on my belly and I stroked his head. I was in utter disbelief and shock, and was shaking all over. I could not believe what had just happened. Dr. Brooks held Nathan while Chad cut the cord. Chad later described the experience as cutting a thick rope with scissors. Nathan was taken away for a brief moment to be cleaned up and weighed, but he was still within in my sight. The doctor pushed on my stomach (major ouch!) and I delivered the placenta. After delivering that big ole’ baby, that was nothing. It seemed like it took the doctor forever to stitch me up. After the cut and tearing, I learned I had 3rd degree tears. I believe the recovery from that was worse than actual delivery.
Finally welcoming baby Nathan
I was insistent that I hold Nathan as soon as possible and breastfeed him before we let the family come in. I knew how important it was to breastfeed within the first hour of his birth in order for him to learn how to latch, suckle, and get the all-important colostrum, as well as to signal my body to start making breast milk. The fact that I didn’t have any meds also helped my milk come in one day early. That proved to be a good thing, because I had a very hungry baby to deal with. I’ve since not had any trouble breastfeeding, through help of a lactation consultant and a very supportive husband. I’m very thankful Nathan has had this advantage. Breastfeeding has not only helped me lose most of the weight I gained while pregnant, but has helped Nathan be a very healthy baby.
After 7.5 hrs of labor, Nathan Chad Swaney was born on June 12, 2010 at 10:36 a.m. He weighed 8 lbs, 10 oz, was 21” long and had a 14” head and 14”chest. He looked exactly as I wished: just like his daddy.
Update: Nathan has brought a lot of joy to many people. He is the first grandchild on Chad’s side of the family. I’m also excited to report that Chad’s grandfather is now cancer- free (thank you, Lord)!!! Nathan is 5 months old and is healthy. Breastfeeding is still going very well. I work full-time, so I have to pump twice a day at work so he has milk during the day while his grandmother cares for him. Fortunately, my employer is supportive of this. Nathan currently weighs 21 lbs and is 28” long. He hasn’t been sick, nor has he had any health problems, which I partially attribute to exclusive breastfeeding for the first 4 months of his life (he is now eating baby food). I also have lost most of the 50 lbs I gained while pregnant with him. We are very grateful that God has blessed us with such a healthy baby.
> Want to share your birth story? Email it now to Bump Eileen at email@example.com.