Caroline's Birth Story

Good times never seemed so good…

I’m so excited to introduce you (whoever you are) to Caroline Jean Davies! We welcomed her to the world on the first official day of summer, June 21st. This date seems so fitting as it represents the event that has brought us into the next season of our lives. Caroline was 8 lbs, 10oz (who would’ve thought there was such a big baby inside my belly!) and was about 19 1/2 inches long. Holding my little Caroline for the first time was the most joyful moment of my life. Up till now, that moment was exiting the sanctuary doors on my wedding day and being lifted up by Judd for a twirl and a kiss. That moment still comes in a close second, but Caroline’s birth comes in on top because it was the most miraculous and spiritual experience I’ve ever had. It’s so overwhelming to meet this little person who came to be inside your body. I know phrasing that way sounds super weird, but it truly is a phenomenon. It is all so out of your hands and completely in God’s…and it’s amazing to see it all happen exactly as he designed it.

I should start by saying that my plan for labor was all natural (if you would have asked me about natural childbirth before I was pregnant, I would have said it was a crazy notion!!). I had a close friend who had a natural childbirth in December, and the more I talked to her about it- the more sense it made to me and possible it seemed. I also watched a documentary called “The Business of Being Born” that made me rethink a lot of things about how childbirth is handled in the US. The film is totally biased on the natural side of things (and quite graphic too I should warn you!), but I figured that since my entire life all I’ve really heard is the pro-intervention side of things…watching 2 hours about the other side wouldn’t hurt and seemed fair. Well after my discussions & research, I felt quite strongly about my desire to avoid the use of pitocin or an epidural. I had a lot of reasons for this, but the number one reason is that the more I learned about childbirth, the more uncomfortable I felt with the concept of intervening in it unless there was a really necessary reason to. I just started to come to the conclusion that a woman’s body is designed to have a baby and I wanted things to happen in their own time and the way that they naturally progress. That being said, I should clarify that obviously, if something needed to be done for the sake of Caroline…I totally would have done it. There is a great reason for some medical interventions of course! Since I was not planning to have an epidural, I hired a doula (basically a labor coach who has been to tons of births and knows all sorts of things about getting through childbirth naturally) who would come and help. I also read a lot of books about natural childbirth since I did not have the chance to take a class. I definitely don’t look down on women who view childbirth a different way, but I do think that natural childbirth is something that more women should take the time to look into!

OK, onward to the actual story! On Sunday night, Judd & I played Settlers of Catan with some friends and I ate chips and queso for dinner (don’t worry, in general I ate much healthier than that throughout the pregnancy). We got home and I wasn’t sleepy and was no longer working, so I ended up staying up till about 1:30am watching HGTV (oh how I wish I had gone to bed early!!). At about 2am (yes after one solid half hour of sleep), I started having contractions. I was surprised that they were pretty intense right from the start…since I had thought that you were supposed to have hours of mild contractions before it really began to get uncomfortable. These were uncomfortable from the get go. I woke up Judd and told him that something was happening but to sleep since it was so early in the process. At about 4:30am, I woke Judd up to start timing things. The poor guy timed contractions pretty much the ENTIRE day. We have PAGES of contraction records. The three words I would use to describe my labor are: confusing, spastic, and random. We spent the first part of the day in confusion. The contractions started out increasing in frequency and duration, but by the mid morning it seemed like things were slowing down. They were still quite intense and painful though…and I had to concentrate to get through them. I remember at one point in the morning taking my blackberry between contractions and googling “what does false labor feel like”. It seemed like what I was experiencing was too painful to be false labor, but it wasn’t following the standard protocol that labor is supposed to. I think I was in labor for 12 hours before I finally was sure that it was the real deal (although looking back, its pretty silly that I was in the amount of pain I was in and didn’t realize it was the real deal…)

Our doctor told us that I could come in for an exam that afternoon if we wanted to check on things without having to go to the hospital yet (we wanted to labor at home as long as possible before going into the hospital…you’ll find that funny later in the story), so we talked about going in to see if any progress was happening. By the time the afternoon hit, getting to the doctor’s office sounded like a horrendous prospect. At that time, if I was walking and had a contraction, I would have to get down on my hands and knees or side in order to get through it. As long as I was laying down and mentally prepared for each contraction, I was fine…but being up and having one hit was brutal. By 5pm or so, things were extremely intense but we still had not closed in on the whole “contractions 5 minutes apart, lasting at least 60 seconds, for an hour” thing. Mine were super random. Some would last 30 seconds, some 60. Some would be 4 minutes apart, some were 7 minutes apart. Like i said before: Spastic. By 6 or 6:30pm, we decided we needed to call our doula and have her head our way. When she got there, I can’t tell you how helpful she was. Judd had certainly been doing all he could to help me, but she was able to help on another level (massage, TENS unit, position changes, birth ball, all SOOO helpful). Just before she arrived, I got “sick” (I won’t go into more detail) and that was when Judd started to think we needed to get to the hospital. I was really hesitant about it though, because we still hadn’t reached that benchmark of the 5min-60sec-1hr thing…and I didn’t want to get to the hospital and be only 5cm dilated or something and then have to be in labor there forever. I figured that even women who aren’t having natural childbirth wait till labor gets to that point to go to the hospital, so I should wait even longer (looking back, I realize that any woman who was planning on pain meds would have left for the hospital LONG before this). Finally, even though I hadn’t reached consistency in things, I realized that if the contractions got any more difficult than they already were…it would be impossible to even GET to the hospital. The idea of being in the car sounded impossible as it was.

We all 3 left for the hospital about 8:30pm and my water broke in the car on the way there (on a pillow that I had asked Judd to cover with a trash bag I might add- tip for others!). The drive was quite difficult (ok that’s an understatement) and my contractions began coming MUCH more frequently once my water broke. We got to Vanderbilt and I was definitely a sight to see. I was having contractions in the hallway while we waited and was in a state of deep focus. They got me up to the room quite quickly and I was so thankful to hear that my doctor was already there and coming to check on my progress. He did a check and what he said caused Judd to look completely shocked…but I didn’t hear him or even really try to right at that moment. Then, my doctor asked me if i had been having the urge to push and I said I didn’t think so (ummm…duh, looking back, I totally had been having the urge to push for about an hour…i just didn’t realize that the urge to push basically feels like the urge to go to the bathroom, with all these books I read- how could I have missed that???). He sounded surprised that I hadn’t and that was when I asked Judd how many cm dilated I was…when he told me TEN- i was stunned. I arrived FULLY DILATED. He actually left the room for a while and let me “labor down” with Judd and my doulas help and so I only had to push a few times. I cannot even begin to tell you how good it felt to be told that I could start pushing. I think it was the BEST news I had ever heard. It also made the decision not to get an epidural even easier, since I never had the option!

Pushing was the easiest part of the whole day. It’s not that it wasn’t painful or anything, but it felt so natural to do it. My doctor just let me push whenever I felt like it and pushing was a relief. You have no control over contractions, they just happen and you have to deal with it (and you have no idea how much longer you’ll be having them!)…whereas pushing is something you could control and you knew the end was in sight. Caroline was born at 10:18pm, after 22 hours of labor. The moments that followed were complete bliss as stated in the beginning of this blog session. I don’t know if its natural childbirth related, but I felt GREAT after she was born (not just emotionally cuz i was excited to meet my baby, but like physically great). I felt energetic like I could have stayed up for hours!