JAB's Birth Story
Leading Up to the Big Day
Most of you probably landed here from my Instagram, which means you probably watched my entire pregnancy journey or at least part of it. Overall, my pregnancy with JAB was amazing. This time around, I felt confident and beautiful (up til the very end of course) and had more knowledge in my ability to give birth since I experienced it once before. We may have started out rough with nausea until week 16, but growing this small little human was nothing short of magical.
As I reached the third trimester, I was feeling really great all things considered. My pregnancy with Olivia became extremely difficult once I hit the third trimester, including developing hypertension and extreme swelling. I was lucky enough to not experience this again right at 28 weeks, but I did however begin experiencing swelling once the 35 week mart hit. It wasn't just a little swelling either, it was never fit in your favorite shoes or wear any of your treasured jewelry swelling. Fun fact about me, my nose also grows during pregnancy and it's more common than you might image. Even the gorgeous Chrissy Teigen admits to experiencing the phenomenon and it's my least favorite symptom of pregnancy.
The night I hit 37 weeks, I began experiencing what it called prodromal labor. This means that you basically believe you're in labor since contractions can be consistent and close together, but your body doesn't begin dilating. The first round of prodromal labor lasted an entire 6 hours and resulted in me rushing to see my midwife at 8 AM the next morning. Low and behold, I wasn't dilated at all and this was when I learned this could happen again every single day until he arrived. Thankfully, I only experienced it two more times and knew what signs to look for if it was actual labor to save me an hour drive with a toddler to see my midwife. If you've ever experienced prodromal labor, you know how frustrating it can be to think the time has finally come only to be told, "sorry, you still have a while to go".
At my 38 week appointment, it went as normal with checking JAB's growth, heart rate and making sure all was right with me. At the end, my midwife mentioned the word I didn't want to hear... INDUCTION. If you know me, I've always dreamed of a natural labor that actually went as planned. My labor with Liv, while I went into labor naturally via my water breaking, she decided to head back up instead of head towards the exit once it happened. This resulted in a 26 hour labor, no natural contractions and a crap ton of pitocin. That was something I didn't want to experience this time around. I wanted to feel real contractions, experience labor how it was meant to be experienced. However, after a long discussion filled with me bringing up my concerns and doubts, I felt comfortable with the decision to induce labor. A huge reason was I said yes was we live over an hour away from my midwife and had to arrange childcare for Olivia during our stay in the hospital. I left that appointment in happy tears, with a date, knowing that my son would be entering this world sometime between January 22nd - 23rd.
Day of Induction
We checked in with the receptionist and were told to head to room three, right next to room four where I delivered Olivia in 2016. My first nurse explained how the entire induction would go, exactly how my midwife described the week prior at my appointment. The plan was to insert Cervadil overnight for 12 hours to soften my cervix then begin Pitocin first thing in the morning. Low and behold, my body had actually started going into labor on the way to the hospital. I was 1 cm dilated when I checked in and having consistent contractions, about 10 minutes apart. I didn't feel all of them, but sure enough they were right there on the monitoring screen, one after another. I was told to walk the halls for an hour, drink water and then at midnight they would check me again for progression.
Midnight rolled around and I was PRAYING with all in me that my body decide to progress on it's own and I'd have to avoid Cervadil altogether. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Despite consistent contractions and me doing all I can to encourage labor, I was still only 1 cm dilated and not softened at all. It was time for Cervadil. Overall, the process was simple and painless. My only gripe and negative side effect of the Cervadil was it made my lady bits feel like a puff pastry. If you know, you know. Apparently swelling can happen and is pretty common with this type of induction and it immediately gets better once the Cervadil is removed. Overnight, my contractions began to intensify and get closer together as the Cervadil was doing it's job. I did my best to sleep through everything and get some rest that I desperately needed.
January 23rd, Day of Delivery
At about 8 AM, the nurses changed shifts and my new nurse checked to see how I was progressing. Sadly, I had only progressed to 2 cm, but the good news was that everything was softening up and we should see some type of action happen in a few hours. I immediately began feeling like this would be another 26 hour labor like with Olivia and felt a little disappointed in my body, like it wasn't doing what it should. I had to remind myself that not every labor is the same and it wasn't over just yet, labor had just ebgun. Not long after she checked me, my contractions got REALLY intense and about 6 minutes apart. I was doing my best to breath through it all but I just couldn't anymore. I let the nurse know I wanted an epidural, but of course only being 2 cm along, I couldn't get one just yet.
Since I wasn't able to have the epidural yet, my midwife suggested something to take the edge off. This something was called Stadol, a drug that is administered through your IV. Before I tell you about this experience with this drug, I will preface by saying I never want it ever again. She began administering the drug and said to me, "You're either going to feel like you had too much to drink or you may hallucinate". Those aren't really words you want to hear once the drug is already being injected into your veins. Before she even finished the entire sentence, I felt like I just had 6 shots of tequila and was ready to fall asleep. The drug did it's job, I'll at least say that. I didn't feel pain and was able to get some rest between contractions. However, and this is the part I hated, it made me hallucinate and I felt like the entire room was made of Play dough. Yes, PLAY DOUGH. I pictured scooping the walls with an ice cream scoop and making a delicious looking bowl of purple dough topped with cherries and little Lego figurines. The images I was seeing felt like being immersed in a Blippi video gone wrong where he is smashing Play Dough. Again, if you know, you know. My husband said I uttered some unmentionables, which he still has yet to tell me to this day.
The Stadol eventually wore off and we were quickly approaching noon. After some rest and not feeling pain for a bit, coming out of the Stadol was awful. My contractions were back to back and I could hardly talk or hardly as the waves came in. At noon, I had a series of 3 back to back, minute long contractions on the edge of the delivery bed. I gripped the handles for dear life and grunted so loud, the entire floor probably heard me. During that third contraction, my water broke and I began crying. I was the only one in the room at the moment it happened, then my husband walked in from getting his fourth or fifth Cafe Bustelo coffee from the snack room. I was in tears, happy tears of course, and asked him to get the nurse. It all became so real in that moment, that in a few hours, I would be holding my son and the emotions were overwhelming.
The next time I was checked was around 2 PM in the afternoon, just two hours after my water broke. I was finally 3 cm, so things were still moving along and then I seriously begged for an epidural. The nurse agreed it was time, my contractions were getting close together and things were beginning to happen fast. However, it just so happened that FOUR other women on the floor were laboring at the same time and we all asked for epidurals at exactly 2 PM. So, I had to wait til it was my turn. At 3 PM and after an hour of waiting impatiently, I finally got my epidural. I know some people have horror stories about the pain, but the worst part was having to breathe through a contraction just as they inserted the needle into my back. After everything was done, I told the nurse I wanted to nap for a bit while the epidural kicked in. I had a feeling it wouldn't be long once I got it set in that it would be time to start pushing. I was right.
Just 45 minutes after getting my epidural, I woke up from my nap and called the nurse. I said, "I remember when I had my daughter, it felt like I had to poop when it was time to push and I'm pretty sure it's time to do that." Sure enough, she came in, checked me and felt his head right there. I had gone from 4 cm to 10 cm in just 45 minutes. She told me he had a full head of hair and that she was going to call my midwife to come deliver. This was the longest 20 minutes of my life. I felt the urge to push and get him out, but my midwife hadn't arrived yet. Once she walked in, I got into position and began pushing. It took 3 pushes and that was it, Jeremy Arthur Bowra was here. I reached down after his head was out and pulled him the rest of the way towards my chest, covered in vernix and all. My husband and I looked at each other, both tearing up, laughing and smiling because we did it, I did it. There are no words to describe the moment you first meet the child you've been growing inside of you for months on end. It's a euphoric feeling like no other, a huge rush of endorphins takes over your body and nothing in the world matters in that moment except that you feel complete.
We did our skin to skin and then my midwife took him to be weighed to make sure he had all ten fingers and all ten toes. We were all so curious about this boys weight because I measured so far ahead towards the end of my pregnancy. Sure enough, he was 9 POUNDS 2 ounces! I just gave birth to a 9 lb baby and guess what, I didn't tear (insert shocked emoji because I was literally SHOCKED!) I didn't have to be stitched and experience that painful side of recovery this time around. Not only was JAB over 9 pounds, but he was 22.25 inches long. In comparison, Liv was 20.5 inches long and we were told that was a pretty decent length for a newborn. No wonder I could never breathe and felt like the boy had zero room left to grow, because I was right!
When I tell you I felt like Superwoman after this birth, it's an understatement. Yes, I had drugs to help with pain during labor, but my body still did an amazing job at bringing this human into the world. I felt nothing but respect and admiration for myself, my body and my soul in the first 24 hours postpartum. My body started labor on its own on the way to be induced, I pushed a 9 pound baby out in three pushes without tearing and I was up and moving not even an hour after delivery on my own. I was actually yelled at by my nurse for getting out of bed without her help to go to the bathroom just an hour after I delivered, but when you gotta go you gotta go. Throughout my entire stay, all the nurses at shift change would mention, "You must be the Wonder Woman that pushed out a 9 lb baby in three pushes", and it honestly boosted my confidence during recovery. They say the mind is powerful, and I couldn't agree more. The more I began believing and feeling like this was what my body was meant to do, the easier each day of recovery became.
I'm now exactly three weeks postpartum and haven't felt better. My midwife gave me clearance at my two week appointment to start working out, moving my body as long as I was comfortable. Yesterday was my first full workout and I feel like I could move mountains. If it could be guaranteed to feel this amazing postpartum every time, I would have six more children right away. Compared to my recovery with Olivia, which wasn't fun or enjoyable, I'm enjoying every second of feeling connected with my mind, body and soul this time around. Now if we could just get some sleep, I would be unstoppable.