Originally posted on July 24, 2018
On June 13, 2018 at 12:53am I became a mom to our sweet baby girl, Hayes. I still can’t believe I did it. As I write this, Hayes is fast asleep wrapped up on my chest. It’s hard to believe that this little human is no longer in my belly and sometimes I miss that giant bump, but while I was changing her diaper this morning she gave me a great big crooked gummy smile and my heart grew three times the size, for the eighth time today.
The first signs of labor
For the entire pregnancy I had dreamed of what it would be like when I went into labor. And on June 12, 2018 I woke up around 3am and again around 5am with an odd crampy feeling that start deep and low in my body and seemed to travel up, making me a bit nauseous. Throughout pregnancy I had been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions, but this was different. It still wasn’t painful, it was just different. I tried to think nothing of it, but my mind drifted to, “this it! I’m going to have a baby this morning!”. Words only a first timer would say.
A doctor’s appointment timed just right
I had an appointment with my midwife that morning and a non-stress test scheduled to check on the baby since I was past my June 9 due date. I got up around 7am, told Jeff I thought I was having early contractions, and went for a 3 mile walk. I had heard that walking and staying active can help to make the contractions stronger and I walked for exercise all throughout the pregnancy. I loved the fresh air and the distraction.
At 9am I went to my midwife appointment and told her that I was feeling something different. She checked me and said that was 1 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I was really excited that there was something to note! Yes, 1 cm wasn’t much, but 90% effaced was good news.
I went across the hall to my non-stress test. I sat and chit chatted with my mother-in-law, who works at the Women’s Center, while I was hooked up. The non-stress test showed a happy baby Nordquist (yay!) and, SURPRISE, more contractions than I even felt (double yay!). My midwife came over to check in and said, “I don’t think you’ll make it to our next appointment, I might even see you today!”
Too excited to work — labor voodoo and nesting instead!
I was excited as I left the hospital. I called Jeff and then my mom to tell them how the appointment went. Then I called my boss to tell her that I was having some minor contractions, it was probably nothing, but I just wasn’t feeling it today and decided not to come into work. I planned on getting a pedicure, paying for the deluxe massage, and baking some treats at home to distract me. It felt like I was playing hooky! I picked up a caramel macchiato and went to get a pedicure. It was glorious. I was completely relaxed, listening to music and letting the massage chair do work. I tried not to note that I felt a couple more of those crampy feelings while in the massage chair… then I grabbed a few things from the grocery store to make scotcharoos and headed home.
At this point I was loving the idea of having our baby today. After all, it was June 12, 2018 and for a girl who loves even numbers (me), 06 – 12 -18 sounded perfect. So I took the last minute advice from our midwife on a couple of things that would help get things going. Jeff came home for lunch, we ate spicy Chinese food, and then I sat down to watch New Girl and use my breast pump for the first time.
Yes, breastfeeding/pumping contracts your uterus and when in early labor can actually help to strengthen and kickstart your contractions. As she instructed I pumped for one hour, five minutes on, five minutes off. By the time I was through a few episodes of New Girl my contractions were painful, lasting about a minute long and about three minutes apart. That seemed to work! Once I realized this I thought, holy crap this is actually happening, do I really want to go into labor?
I was on and off the phone with my mom, texting Jeff to let him know that I thought it was really happening and I decided to text my doula so she had a heads up that I would probably see her today or tomorrow. My contractions were already really close together, but I knew they weren’t intense enough so I took advice from our birth class and got to distracting myself.
I made a batch of scotcharoos and cleaned the house like a mad women… sounds a bit like nesting, huh?
The labor is real
By 4pm I called Jeff and told him that there wasn’t a rush, but that I wanted him to come home and help me labor. When he arrived I was pacing around the house and tracking my contractions with an app on my phone. I was rather calm. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his face when he walked in the door, the perfect mix of excitement and terror. Neither one of us knew what we were doing or what to expect. I showed him the scotcharoos I made and asked him to do a few odd clean up jobs around the house. The next several hours my contractions began to get more and more intense, staying about a minute long and 3 – 5 minutes apart. I needed Jeff’s support more and more. We turned on chick flicks (The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) so I could half watch something to distract myself. I was still tracking contractions on my app, pressing the start and stop button with each surge. I labored walking around the house, laying on my side on the living room floor and kneeling into an exercise ball. I was in contact with my doula and my midwife by this point so everyone knew what was going on.
Around 8pm my sisters came to pick up our pup, Miles so that he was taken care of when we were at the hospital. I cried like I was loosing him forever when he left the house. It sounds silly, but like many dog lovers, Miles was more like our first baby and his entire world was going to change. As my sisters and pup headed out my doula arrived to check on my progress. That’s when things started to change. Between 8pm and 9pm my contractions became noticeably stronger causing me to work through them. Jeff and my doula were doing double hip squeeze and massaging my back and shoulders to help me cope. I moved from laying on my left side to my right side, then on all fours and kneeling on my exercise ball. My water cup was never empty and I was never alone. I distinctly remember the moment when I stopped tracking my contractions. I forgot to hit the “stop” button after the contraction was over – hello labor land! – and I heard Jeff say, “Syd, are you still having a contraction?”, confused as to why I didn’t hit the stop button. I didn’t answer and, softly, my doula shook her head and told him to not worry about it. I was no longer concerned about how far apart my contractions were or how long they lasted, I was deep in labor. It was painful and my mind was consumed.
Laboring at home as long as possible
My goal was to stay at home as long as possible. The less time I had in the hospital the less likely I was to stall in labor, ask for meds, and plus, it was wonderful to be in the comfort of our own home, just the three of us. I was Group B Strep positive, so ideally I was suppose to get at least one dose of antibiotic 4 hours before delivering, but I knew that wasn’t something we could time. As my contractions got stronger and stronger I moved from laboring on the floor to standing and leaning onto our coffee bar. We were getting closer to meeting our little one.
I decided it was time to start getting things ready so we could leave whenever it felt right. I changed my clothes over the course of several contractions while Jeff put everything in the car. After changing I resumed laboring in the kitchen leaning into the coffee bar. I kept asking my doula if she thought we should leave even though I knew she would leave the decision up to me. She kept saying, let’s see if we can do a few more contractions, let’s see if we can do a few more, until finally, I knew I was ready to go. I waited to have one more contraction before getting into the car, hoping to minimize the number of contractions I had to endure while driving. We live about 4 miles from the hospital so the ride wasn’t too long. Jeff texted my midwife that we were on our way. It seems like an eternity and a flash at the same time. I remember having a contraction as we went over the railroad tracks and holding onto the oh sh*t handle as tightly as I could.
The pain and rhythm of the contractions consumed me. And my eyes were tightly shut the entire way.
At the hospital
We found parking on the first floor of the garage. And I immediately started walking when I got out of the car. The movement was helping to ease the pain. Staying still was unbearable. I had a contraction in the garage and another right as we entered the hospital. We made our way to the 4th floor triage a little after 11pm. I hated sitting on the hospital bed and answering questions, but I hated having a contraction laying on that bed more. At this point there was no way of getting through contractions without loud deep moaning, eyes closed and squeezing onto something or someone. My midwife met us in triage to check me and I was about 6 – 7 cm dilated. Hearing that made me. so. happy. I was more than halfway there. I know people often stall when getting to the hospital and changing environments so I kept my eyes closed trying to stay in my labor land to keep things going.
We met our nurse and made our way to our delivery room. My doula started to draw a bath while Jeff helped me labor on the bed and the nurses hooked me up to an IV to start the antibiotic for Group B Strep. They also wanted to monitor the baby before I got in the bath so two tight bands were immediately strapped to my belly. None of those things were fun to do in this much pain.
A bit of laboring in the tub
Once all of the birthing formalities were done I made my way over to the bath. My doula had lavender essential oils diffusing, a warm bath ready and a washcloth to put over my eyes. I heard people talk about how soothing water is during labor, I didn’t believe it until I felt it. There was an ease and calm that I didn’t feel when I was laboring standing up, sitting, or kneeling. Each contraction was harder and harder; the contractions seemed to take over my body, like I was a passenger with little control. I gripped the railing in the bathtub and squeezed whoever’s hand was next to the tub. I remember the nurse wanted to ask Jeff questions that they didn’t think I was in a place to answer, but I wanted him by my side. I wanted the comfort of his voice and his touch.
I wasn’t allowed to give birth in the tub, so I had to get out when I started to feel pushy, which came much faster than I imagined. I was in the tub for about twenty minutes when the pushy feelings took over. There was nothing I could do to stop it, my body was pushing on it’s own. I got out of the tub and was checked once again when I made it to the bed. I was 9 cm dialted.
Last stretch of labor, pushing, and meeting our baby girl
To get one more centimeter before allowing me to push my doula suggested that I get on all fours on the bed. I did not want to be on all fours. I remember protesting, while everyone else encouraged me. Next thing I knew I was on all fours gripping the back of the bed with each contraction. I have never felt so animal-like in my entire life. It was primal. This was the only time I remember verbalizing my doubts and fears around my ability to birth without any pain medication. I remember screaming “I don’t know if I can do this”, but my birth team knew I could and they continued to support me. My midwife checked me again about 10 minutes and 6 contractions later. I was 10 cm and able to flip onto my side and start pushing.
I pushed on my side and then on my back. I know many people who don’t like to push on their back like you traditionally see, but it felt right. During a push, I heard a loud pop and watched my midwife and my husband fly backward. My water broke while pushing! Surprise! – We had a good laugh about that after birth – Pushing was painful and I hated the unknown. I never knew how close or far I was to meeting our little one. I just knew I had to put all my power into pushing. If I made noise, I wasn’t doing it right; every bit of energy needed to go to pushing. About twenty minutes later I pushed our baby’s head out through that infamous ‘ring of fire’ and the rest of baby’s body quickly followed. My midwife told me I could reach down and grab our baby – WHAT? I reached down, tears streaming down my face and pulled the baby up to my chest. It was the most amazing thing in the world. My whole body felt tired and unbelievably relieved, like it was melting into the bed. And that squishy purple nugget was safely crying on my chest.
Since a dream in my first trimester, I was convinced we were having a boy. But as Jeff reached over and lifted up our baby’s leg he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Syd, it’s a girl.” I was shocked. Shocked, but thrilled. We immediately named her Hayes Hill Nordquist. Hayes is her great grandmother’s maiden name (and my middle name!) and Hill is my maiden name. Hayes Hill Nordquist was a fierce little girl, 7 pounds 2 ounces and 20 1/4 inches long. Her dark hair looked slightly wavy, just like her mama. She knew what she wanted right away and we all watched as she flung herself over to my right breast and started nursing. It felt surreal. I was a mom for 4 minutes and we were already nursing. Motherhood began in a rush.