Adele’s Birth Story, by mother Jaimee Cline:
I was blessed with a wonderful, exciting, and easy pregnancy. I know not everyone is, and I feel very lucky to have loved every minute. By 41 ½ weeks pregnant, I really wasn’t uncomfortable or tired of being pregnant at all. Seriously. I was fine…a little nervous that I’d hit 42 weeks and have to decide whether to opt for induction, but mostly just happy to be pregnant and healthy. However, friends’ and family members’ well-meaning concerns were starting to get old. In fact, Titus started holding my phone and every time a text came through, he’d screen it so I wouldn’t have to see and react to the several “Did you have your baby YET?” texts I would receive daily from close friends and mere acquaintances alike. I knew in my mind and my heart that our baby girl was coming…in her own time.
At 12:35 am on Monday, November 18, I woke up with contractions—REAL contractions! I laid there through two or three, just to be sure I hadn’t dreamed or imagined them. When I was sure I was having actual contractions, I was so excited! Our little girl would be here before we knew it! I got up to pee and noticed the insides of my pajama shorts were soaked. I was just sure my water had broken. I tried not to get too worked up—I knew I needed to sleep and the pressure waves were still about 15 minutes apart. I cleaned up and changed, texted my doula, woke my husband just long enough to tell him the news, and went back to sleep. I continued to experience the contractions several times an hour the rest of the night in a semi-awake, semi-asleep state.
At 5am, the waves were getting a little more intense and it hurt to lay down through them. I was too excited to stay in bed so I got up and wandered around the house before deciding I’d better start on my early labor project…after all, you never know how quickly things could progress and I wanted to get my cookies baked for the L&D nurses. After a couple hours, and calling my mom to share the news, I went back to bed, since things weren’t progressing, and I knew I needed sleep.
Once I got up for the day (for the second time), I continued to text my doula, Chandra, to keep her informed. It was already my husband’s day off of work, and I thought about how perfect that was so he could be home with me. We ate lunch, hung around watching TV (me on the birth ball, rocking and breathing through contractions), and went for a couple of long walks. When I went to the bathroom, I found myself losing bits and pieces of my mucus plug, which confirmed to me that things were definitely progressing. We timed contractions on and off all day, and while they were definitely intensifying, they stayed rather irregular, anywhere from 6-8 minutes apart to 15-18 minutes apart, each lasting about a minute. We called the doctor in the late afternoon to let her know what was going on, and told her we’d play it by ear and let her know if the waves got more regular and we decided to come in. As night set in, and the contractions still weren’t regular or speeding up, I resigned myself that I wouldn’t have a baby today—maybe tomorrow. While I couldn’t deal with the contractions lying in bed, they weren’t too bad sitting up. So there I slept, on the couch with a neck pillow around my neck and a blanket wrapped around me, waking up for each contraction, then going relaxing my neck to go back to sleep.
The first half of Tuesday went largely the same as Monday. I had contractions, I bounced on the birth ball, I walked around. The contractions were quite a bit more intense, but still quite irregular time-wise. They had lengthened a little bit to be closer to 1 ½ minutes on average, with a few being over 2 minutes. We went out to brunch (and giggled at the waitress’ reaction to my pausing and breathing through contractions) and walked around Walmart, probably freaking everyone out in the meantime. I had a regular prenatal appointment scheduled for afternoon, followed by a nonstress test (that, in truth, ended up very stressful, but that’s a whole other story). Everything proved fine with baby girl, so we went back home to labor on. I was just sure we’d be back in a matter of hours.
The amniotic-fluid-checking ultrasound showed the baby’s body was in position, but her head was asynclitic (turned sideways, as if looking over her shoulder). I texted Chandra, and we both discussed that perhaps that was what was stopping up labor. When we got back home, we visited with my mom and Titus’ mom (who were already there…I mean, I called them Monday morning…of course I’d have a baby to come visit by Tuesday evening! HA!). Chandra hurried over and we got to work at about 10pm Tuesday trying everything we could to get baby to turn her head…lunges up and down stairs and over a chair, meditating to Hypnobabies tracks in strange positions, and even hobbling up and down our street with one foot on the curb like a drunken hobo.
We worked and worked until 2:30am, having a good old time talking and laughing. Titus and our moms were long to bed, and we finally gave up and dozed on the couch until 5am. By then, contractions were at about 10 minutes apart, but were feeling a lot more intense. I’d had some watery discharge, especially a couple of gushes upon changing positions or getting up from the couch, but I wasn’t sure whether it was more mucus or if my water had actually broken. We decided to go ahead and go to the hospital.
We woke up Titus and headed out around 5:30am. Our car was already mostly loaded, and we got ready and left, Chandra following behind us. It was, of course, still dark outside and the middle of November. As we neared downtown, I saw that the city had just put up the snowflake Christmas decorations on every lightpole. They were lit up and looked SO BEAUTIFUL. I was absolutely touched at the sight and thought how perfect a morning it was. I’ll never forget how special that sight was as we turned to head out of town.
After a quick stop at the gas station for sugar and caffeine, we headed out of town and to the hospital (in a small town an hour away). We arrived at about 6:30am. I had quite a few contractions on the road, and they seemed a lot closer together, but I was handling them really well with the help of the Hypnobabies scripts I was listening to on headphones.
After getting checked in and settled in the L&D room (contractions had slowed to 20-25 mins apart at this point), the nurse Yenni performed the first cervical check. I was dilated to 5-6 cm, at 0 station. I was thrilled to have made such progress with no “regularly-occurring” contractions and set to work to get the waves going again. I walked, lunged, laid on the birth ball, and did pelvic rocks. They brought and I happily gobbled down a delicious breakfast. At 10:30am, we busted out the birth tub. We had gotten previous permission—the hospital had even written a specific policy to allow us—to bring our own tub to labor in. Titus and Chandra set it up in the bathroom and filled it, and it felt glorious. Contractions sped up to every 8 minutes at this point. We were all encouraged. After an hour or hour and a half, I started to get cold, the nurse needed to monitor me, and lunch had arrived. I got out and ate, then immediately felt cold, shakey, and gross all over. I threw up. Of course I wondered if I was somehow in transition. We had a second nurse check my dilation at 1:30pm, and much to all our dismay, I was still at 5cm, 80% effaced, and 0 station. Grrrr!
It was at this point that we started talking about the possibility of doing something to get labor to progress, just for the sheer fact that I hadn’t truly slept in so long and might soon be too exhausted to go on. I cried out of frustration and exhaustion, and Chandra and Titus helped me decide that doing something was probably prudent. Dr. Witter arrived at 2:30pm and attempted to artificially rupture my membranes. She had a hard time, and finally broke the bag, but no water came out. At the time, we assumed it was because baby’s head was so low and was blocking all the fluids inside. However, in retrospect, I believe my waters had broken early Monday morning with the first contractions, and there was simply none left to come out. She said at this point, I was probably 6-7 cm and 90-95% effaced. Still 0 station.
We walked the halls, squatted, and lunged for a couple more hours. At about 6pm, the OB nurse,Yenni, brought up the idea of using Pitocin to speed things up. At this point, I had a little break-down. I’d stayed pretty positive through everything, but nothing was going like I planned. I absolutely did not want to use Pitocin because (according to every account I’d ever really heard of), Pitocin contractions are absolutely excruciating and it’s almost impossible to deal with them without use of drugs or an epidural. I had prepared myself with the idea of straying from my plan in some ways, but the idea of using Pitocin, in my head, equated breaking down and getting an epidural—and I’d already come to far to agree to that! After a long stressful discussion, Titus and Chandra both convinced me that I absolutely could handle Pitocin-induced contractions and that at this point, it was probably the smart thing to do if I hoped to have any energy to push this baby out on my own. We decided to give it one more hour and really try to get things going ourselves, and if I didn’t make good progress in that hour, we’d try Pit. We then walked—no, stomped—the hallways of that entire hospital. I figured out that if I skipped the ginger pregnant-lady gait and instead walked with more of a bounce like a normal person would, I could cause contractions to be much more regular. I got them down to 5-minutes apart consistently for the first time the entire labor. During this entire time, Chandra and Titus followed a few steps behind like my “posse,” joking and giggling and generally keeping the mood light. Every time I got a contraction, I would stop and lean and rock, usually on Titus. At 7:30pm, they checked me again. Even though I was just sure that I’d made progress this time, there was very little. Contractions slowed back down while being monitored. After taking a minute to wrapping my head around it, I agreed at this point to trying the Pitocin.
At 8:30pm, after getting orders from Dr. Witter, they inserted the IV (I hadn’t had an IV in at all before then), and started the Pitocin and IV fluids. Contractions started picking up right away. At this point, time gets really blurry for me. It seems like from the time we started the Pitocin until pushing was 20 or 30 minutes—when in actuality it was 3 ½ hours. Either way, within 15 minutes of starting the IV, the waves were all 3-4 minutes apart and 2-3 minutes long, some double-peaking. By 9:15pm, I was 7 ½ to 8 cm dilated.
When I felt each wave coming on, all I could handle was to tell Chandra and Titus, then lay back on the bed (in a reclined sitting position) and “urn off my (Hypnobabies) lightswitch” and breath really deeply. When I’d start to tense up or get scared, both Chandra and Titus would talk me through it, saying “Relax” and “Keep that lightswitch completely off!”. This allowed me to really remember and use my Hypnobabies skills and I stayed completely calm and relaxed through every contraction, right up to 10 cm. Also during this time, I went from completely clothed to completely naked, needed a blanket, and then was incredibly hot. I was all over the place and it is all really blurry in my memory.
I had wanted to use the tub during transition, but by the time I was there, I felt like all I could handle was to use my hypnosis to relax through contractions on the bed. I felt like if I got up and moved and had a contraction while moving, I might “lose it” and not be able to relax again. So there in bed I stayed, despite my general feelings of aversion to women laboring in bed. 🙂 At almost midnight, I moved to the toilet to empty my bladder and had lots of really strong contractions on the toilet. Chandra stood in front of me and allowed me to lean forward on her, which really helped. These contractions were difficult to handle, but I felt like progress was being made so I stayed there for 40 minutes. Soon, my body was pushing through the peak of each wave. I couldn’t not push—my body just did it automatically. It was so strange yet such a great feeling!
At midnight, I officially rang in day 4 of labor. I moved back to the bed at 12:30am and sat on the edge of the drop-down delivery portion of the L&D bed. I really began pushing at this point. I liked the feeling of pushing through contractions. It was like, instead of just lying there and trying to relax through intensity and pain and feelings of tightness, I could instead really embrace the pain and tightness and intensity and direct it toward something. It made the pain not as noticeable and made me feel like I was getting somewhere! I started out in semi-reclining position pulling on the rails of the bed. Finally, I got into squatting position hanging on the squat bar. In squat position, my body automatically let out an intensely primal guttural roar and beared down HARD—putting all my other pushing to shame. After my first contraction in squat position, I remember thinking, “What in the world…was that sound me?” In fact, the next day I had a sore throat from all the guttural primal growling.
I zoned out and pushed. Titus and Chandra, seeing that I didn’t need them or even really notice their presence, set to work taking down and packing up the birth tub. At 1:40pm, I remember feeling exhausted and, between a push, feeling like everyone forgot about me. I (hazily) remember stopping and asking Chandra how much longer she thought this all would take. She turned around and said something like, “Honey, you’ve been working hard at this for 3 days now. Do you want to give up now?” She was absolutely right, and I could do nothing but sigh and turned back to push again, this time more determinedly. At around this time, all the nurses left the room, leaving just Stacey, the student PA who was fighting to keep her eyelids open over in the corner.
An hour later, I was still pushing and pushing with all my might through every contraction, and there was still no progress. I was starting to loose steam and hope that this would ever happen. At 2:55am, our baby was still at 0 station. I’d been pushing almost three hours with no progress in baby’s position.
Chandra could see I was exhausted and suggested I recline back into the semi-sitting position between pushes so I could rest. She pulled up a chair and started watching right between my legs. In my daze, I only kind-of noticed, but had no idea why she was parked there. I only felt encouraged that maybe it meant that something was happening. Then, during one particularly long and pushy contraction, Chandra started cheering me on excitedly. She could see that I was pushing “in the right spot.” I focused all my pushing power on THAT spot from then on and within the next couple pushes, I could feel the baby moving down through the birth canal! It was the strangest and most exciting feeling and gave me a little energy boost. By 3:10am, Chandra could see the baby’s head. She called the attention of a nurse who checked me and then yelled down the hallway, “Get the doctor here NOW.” I tell you, THAT was encouraging!!!
Here’s where time apparently morphed into craziness again. I felt like the time from being administered Pitocin to now seemed like maybe an hour…when, in fact, it had been 3 hours. And then the time from seeing the baby’s head until the doctor arrived felt like another hour…when in reality, it had been literally 5 minutes. Then the time from the doc arriving until my baby was born felt like 2 hours, when it was really exactly 4 minutes. I can hardly believe it. I’ve read a dozen time in birth stories how time in birth-world is completely warped for the mama and now I really get it.
Anyways, when the doctor plopped down between my legs in her full blue-scrub-garb, I felt like I’d just gotten to the final stretch in a long race. I no longer felt tired. I was just anxious to meet my new baby and cuddle her in my arms. At this point, I looked around and saw Dr. Witter and her student PA, Stacey, crowded between my legs. The OB nurse on duty and the head OB nurse, Yenni, was on my right side. Titus and Chandra were on my right. And at the door, I’m just sure I saw AT LEAST one additional nurse (maybe two?) just standing there to watch. At that moment, I felt like I had a giant audience. I’d gotten completely stark naked and was growling like a wildwoman and knew I had an audience…and didn’t care in the least.
I pushed and pushed and pushed. The doctor tried and tried to massage my perineum and get me to stretch or tear, but it was not happening (and, of course, I felt like an eternity was passing) so I agreed to and got an episiotomy. Then, when the head was about to pop out, I remember the doctor preparing me that when the head emerged, I would really need to keep pushing with all my might, contraction or not. I prepared myself mentally. At 3:19am, I felt Adele’s head “pop” out. Dr. Witter took a breath in and started to remind/encourage me to keep pushing, and before she could get a sentence out, Addy’s whole body flopped out into her arms. Dr Witter caught the baby and exclaimed, “Well, okay then.” I remember holding my arms out in a “gimme-gimme” stance and I remember that I high-pitched-shrieked like a crazed woman. I had so much emotion and was so, so tired. Apparently, I also exclaimed, “What? What?? I can’t handle this right now!” I was completely unprepared for that moment, seeing an actual little baby who had been inside me and at the center of my thoughts for so long. It didnt seem real. And I was so so tired…I just felt like I couldn’t handle the sheer intensity of the emotions I was feeling pulse through me.
It was just a couple seconds before my baby was handed to me, but (again) it seemed like an eternity. Her cord was short, so they laid her on my tummy for a couple minutes until all her cord blood had pumped into her. Then, Titus cut the cord and I pulled her up to my chest and she nursed like a champ and looked around with a grumpy little expression. All this time, my eyes were just drinking in all the little features of my little girl. So perfect. She had a little vernix on her shoulders and in the folds of her shoulders and behind her knees. And her hair! She had LOTS of blonde hair, which was soaked with olive oil (from the perineal massage) and (my) blood and amniotic fluid and it was lying in kind-of curly-kinks against her misshapenly-lumpy but mostly spherical little head. Her eyes were SO wide open and looking around. I exclaimed, “Oh my goodness! I’ve never been so in love in my entire life.” We stayed like that—nursing, cuddling, and Titus and I staring at the new love of our lives—for over an hour before cleaning up and heading to our recovery room.
I had an absolutely crazy-long, intense, fun, silly birthing time. I love thinking and talking (and apparently, writing) about it. And even though lots of things didn’t go as I’d hoped and envisioned, it was nothing short of extraordinary. It was the perfect segue into motherhood. The transition to being Adele’s mommy has been much more transformational than I ever would have imagined. It only makes sense that the experience moving me into such a role be just as intense and transformational.
I’m so thankful to have had such a kind and patient doctor and hospital staff, who were all happy and completely willing (and even excited) to let me do it “my way,” respectful of my space, timeline, and wishes they weren’t used to at all.
I’m SO thankful we decided to hire a doula that was SO kind and generous. She spent 30+ hours awake and constantly by my side (while even my husband got to take naps here and there). She made the experience fun, even on day 3 as we speed-walked up and down hallways, stopping to “slow-dance” in front of unsuspecting administrators offices, etc. She was amazing and I consider myself lucky to consider her a friend now!
And God has truly blessed me with a wonderful, gentle, hard-working, and patient husband who never doubted me, and stood by me to encourage me and give me exactly what I needed. And he’s been nothing short of a spectacular dad for the same reasons.
God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good. Halleluiah!