Tuesday, June 3, 2014

jude's birth story

I have been way too excited about writing this novel post.  I've had so many people ask me about Jude's birth story and I'm thrilled to share it in detail!  This is a long one, friends...so grab a cup of coffee and sit back a while.

If you aren't into explicit medical details, please don't read further.  I don't plan on holding back on the truth.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  :)  Snarky comments will be lovingly deleted.  :)

Jude was born on April 17, 2014.  It was a Thursday.  

Let's jump back two days to Tuesday, April 15.  We were at the OB clinic having one last check-up with Dr. Mark LeDuc.  I was anxious to see if anything had progressed...as of the week prior I was just a 1/2 centimeter dilated, but had experienced a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions and downward pressure over the weekend.  Tom and I had been going for walks every night for at least 30 minutes, hoping it would help move things along.  In retrospect I am positive that the walking did help, and it also helped me stay in shape for labor and postpartum.  

Dr. L told us we were now TWO centimeters dilated, and stripped my membranes!  Hurray!  Since I was a gestational diabetic (that is a whole different adventure worthy of a blog post all its own), it was important for me to not go too far past my due date (April 18th), so we set a date for induction.  We wanted Dr. L to be there for the delivery if possible, so he gave us two choices: Thursday the 17th or Monday the 21st.  Thursday, April 17th ended up being the day that worked out better for everyone, so now we were looking at having our baby in two days.  TWO DAYS....holy cow.  It was getting real. 

In two days, we'd show up at the hospital at 6 a.m. and we wouldn't leave without a baby.

I called my sister, Anne, and told her to come to Mason City tomorrow night.  Anne is a family practice/OB physician and it was my plan to have her with me for the entire birth.  She'd had her baby suitcase ready for two weeks already--same as Tom and me!--and had cleared it with her clinic to leave whenever the time was right.  Isn't that great?  I have the best sister in the world.  What a blessing she is.

The rest of the day and night, my head was a mess.  I had many thoughts. 

I don't even know what a contraction feels like
.  Will it hurt me as badly as it hurts everyone else?  Is it going to make me scream like the women on TV and  movies?

What if something goes wrong?  That thought alone was enough to put me into orbit, so I forced myself to stop thinking about it altogether.  Miscarrying in January of '13 gave me huge fears for this pregnancy and I wasn't over them, even days before our due date.  

Can I really do this??   How on earth was I supposed to squeeze this wiggly, kicking basketball out of, well, a space MUCH SMALLER THAN A BASKETBALL??  Our 36-week ultrasound had revealed that baby boy was approximately 7 pounds and 2 ounces already...yikes...so that would mean a BIG baby by the time we reached 40 weeks!  I was so scared that the delivery would be difficult, involving all of those interventions we'd learned about and maybe even a c-section.  I trusted the docs and nurses completely, but really wanted things to be as natural and uncomplicated as possible. 

I had to remind myself that my mother did it...she gave birth twice.  My sister did it twice.  My aunt did it four times.  My dear friend Angie did it FIVE times.  In fact, every person who exists has been BORN...and if it were that horrible, the human race would cease to exist.  LOL.  Thank goodness for mothers, right?

At the end of the day, all I could do was take deep breaths and be thankful for how far we'd come without any huge problems, and simply TRUST God to take care of us.  My sweet husband knew I needed help finding peace, so he provided little things along the way to make me laugh and relax during these last few days.  My favorite memory from that week is of us in our basement watching Hot Shots Part Deux.  (I am a HUGE fan of stupid comedy.)  "Geronimo!  Geronimo!!  MEEEE!!!"

Wednesday, April 16th was my last day of teaching and it felt strange to think about how I wouldn't be back the next day.  I tried not to make a big deal of it to the kids, and didn't discuss it unless they asked me when the baby would be born.  I had a lot more to do to get ready for my long-term sub than I thought, so the kids lucked out and got to watch videos while I worked at my desk.  I left school around 4:30 and headed home.  

Tom and I wanted a "routine" evening, doing our normal nighttime rituals as to not create unnecessary nerves.  We had the car all packed, so we treated ourselves to dinner at the Quarry and a workout at the MCHS weight room.  I felt normal, despite a few very light cramps here and there.  I'd lost the mucus plug that morning and it continued throughout the day, so I wondered if that plus the cramps were caused by the stripping of the membranes.  

It was a nice evening with my love.  I held onto his hand as much as I could, thinking about how this was our very last night of being "two."  How very surreal.  

After our workout, it was time to do the double and triple check of our house to make sure we had absolutely EVERYTHING we needed.  We also recorded a short video, talking to our son on the night before he was born.  We told him all about his name, and about who we are.  I cried, of course.  I'm sure it will embarrass him when he is a teenager :)

Tom went to bed and fell asleep effortlessly.  I tried to sleep but couldn't...my mind wouldn't shut off.  I got up and waited for Anne to arrive--she was on her way from Pella.  

Anne arrived at 11:15 or so, and we both headed to bed shortly after.  Approximately 30 minutes later I woke up with a start...and a VERY painful cramp.  I got up to use the bathroom, thinking it would help.  I tried to go back to bed and laid down on my side, and immediately got up because it hurt so badly.  I thought I might puke, actually.  I ended up sitting up in bed trying to sleep, but another painful cramp came along, this one worse.  I thought, "Maybe this is it, I'm sure it's not...but just maybe."  So I quickly downloaded a contraction timing app onto my phone and waited for it to happen again.  It did.  And again, and again and again.  They were 7-10 minutes apart, and then suddenly I had two that were a little over 3 minutes apart.  WHAT?!!  

I immediately went downstairs to talk to Anne about it.  She wasn't even sleeping.  She'd been listening to my pacing back and forth from the bedroom to the bathroom and wondering if I was in labor!  When I came down, she said "I thought you might come down here before long."  I told her what was going on and she asked if I could walk and talk through them.  Yes, I could.  I sat on the couch with her and we timed out a few more contractions--3 minutes apart for all of them.  Before long, they were getting BAD and I was struggling to breathe through them.  We decided we needed to get to the hospital and get there FAST.  She said, "I'm going to hop in the shower, why don't you go wake up Tom and get ready to go."

(I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.  We were scheduled to be induced in 6 hours and my body had gone into labor on its own!!  What was this?!)

I woke Tom up, and he rolled over with a seriously dazed expression.  He mumbled "whaaa?"  I yelled, "I'm having contractions and they're every three minutes and they hurt like hell and we're going to the hospital."  "What?" he mumbled again.  It was then that I remembered he had taken NY-QUIL four hours earlier.  LOL!!!  

Anne was still showering so I told Tom to go back to sleep for a few minutes.  As he dozed, I walked around the living room trying to breathe through contractions.  It wasn't long before Anne came bouncing up the steps and said, "It's time to go.  Come on, Tom."  Her tone was authoritative.  She was in charge.  Tom woke up and said "what, why, what's going on?"  

Are you kidding me??  I was so annoyed with him...thank goodness my sister was there to wrangle him because he probably would have had bruises somewhere otherwise.  

Tom was up and ready in 5 minutes, and meanwhile I was bent over the couch, crying.  Anne was coaching me through the contractions and saying, "yep this is the real deal."  It hurt like the dickens.  Kind of like my lower abdomen was going to rip apart.  

We got in the cars and headed to the hospital.  I had two contractions on the way...I remember wishing Tom would have run all the stop signs and red lights.  We finally made it to the ER and were admitted. 

Now this I remember: the ER receptionist was very nonchalant.  I was panicked, crying, pacing...Tom wasn't much better...and that lady at the desk was just like "mmmkay, name and date of birth please."  I remember wanting to punch her if I was contracting, and hugging her if I was between contractions.  Weird.  

I also remember looking around at the ER and commenting on how nice the remodel is.  :)

Two security guards came to fetch us, and they wheeled us up to the Birth Center.  My heart pounded when I saw those doors.  Okay, NOW it was real.  And we'd get to meet our baby soon.  

We were taken quickly to our room--LDR #4.  I was still experiencing painful contractions about 2-3 minutes apart.  Our sweet nurse, Lindsey, helped me get into a gown and seated me on a birthing ball.  I was hooked up to a couple monitors and got an IV inserted into my left hand...ouch.  

I bounced, rocked and swayed through many more contractions.  Labor is weird...during the contractions, it's pure hell.  Between the contractions, you actually feel rather normal (as I'm forcing a smile in the above picture).  The thing is, your body feels normal, but you're completely pissed off because you know what's coming in another 2 or 3 minutes!!!  I was also very tired since we hadn't slept at all (except for Ny-Quil Tom).  

Lindsey left too soon after she arrived, and Andrea was our next nurse.  She encouraged us to take my IV pole on a walk around the third floor.  Anne, Tom and I walked and walked.  Each time I had a contraction I would lean on them or on the wall, and breathed through it.  We saw Dr. Tan, whose words of encouragement "Walk, walk walk, come on baby!" made me smile.  I love his wonderful accent.  

At one point I had a contraction right near the birth center doors, and it was all I could do to keep from yelling.  Luckily we were near the nursery windows and I caught a glimpse of those beautiful sleeping babies.  My heart swelled...it really wouldn't be long until we had one of those!  So incredible.  Those sweet little babies motivated me to be strong.  My baby was worth it.

The less flattering side of labor...

The contractions were absolutely dreadful and I was so tired.  We went back to the room and I went back on the birthing ball.  I had been asking about an epidural for the past hour or so, and I knew my cervix wasn't quite ready, but I was getting desperate.  That 5 centimeters was taking forever.  Anne told me to ask the nurse about something to take the edge off.  I did, and Andrea gave me a dose of something (I wish I remember what it was) in my IV to help me relax.  I think it worked...not enough to take away the pain, but enough to help me sleep between contractions.  

I was so discouraged every time my cervix was checked and it hadn't reached 5 centimeters.  I just wanted to cry.  

Somehow the night passed.  It was so long.  It did pass, though...and we got through to daylight.  I think so many of those dark, early morning moments became a blur as I struggled through the pain.  Andrea's shift ended and JULIE was our daytime nurse!  I could hardly believe it.  Julie was our birth class teacher and we absolutely loved her.  I had prayed that we'd have her in the delivery room, but it was one of those prayers that I didn't really think would be answered because she only worked a few days per month.  Our fantastic doctor showed up at 7, too.  Talk about immediate relief!  I couldn't believe how lucky we were with all of our favorite people showing up at exactly the right time.

My cervix was still not ready for an epidural, and the time just seemed to drag on.  I remember Anne giving me a scalp massage at one point and remembering how fro-ish my hair must have looked.  No picture...I think if Tom had taken any photos at this point, I would have scratched his eyes out.

Finally, finally, finally I got the green light for an epidural and they got one ordered for me.  I was so ready to feel some relief and get some rest.  At 8:30 or 9:00ish, the anesthesiologist came in--Dr. Sewell!  How cool--another guy we know and trust.  Thank you, God.  I really had a lot of peace about every single person involved...what a blessing to us.

Once that epidural started working, oh, what a miracle.  I fell asleep immediately.  I was so exhausted that sleep came easy and fast.  

After the epidural started working...in la-la land!

The next 6 or 7 hours were comfortable and sleepy.  I drifted in and out of sleep.  Tom and I watched a little bit of Fever Pitch, we listened to some of the music on my iPhone, the monitors continued to do their job, and once in a while my cervix got checked.  I was so thankful to have Anne there through it all.  She was amazing.  I never, ever had to be worried or nervous, because if the docs or nurses weren't there, she had answers for me.  Whenever there was even a small chance that I might be concerned about something, she was there with reassurance and comfort.  

Fever Pitch!

Eventually, Dr. L announced that I was dilated to NINE centimeters!  I'd started to feel some pressure and heaviness -- no pain, really -- just pressure.  It was exciting.  Finally, we were able to see the light at the end of this exhausting tunnel.  I think that must have been around 3:00 pm.

I continued to lay on my sides, and my core muscles and hips began to ache.  Julie told me it was probably due to the contractions, and the pain was happening where the epidural wasn't.  Makes sense.  It was growing worse by the minute.

Dr. L decided it was best to have me "labor down" which I think means to wait until the urge to push was there.  So more waiting for us.  Anne mentioned that I was most likely saving myself a lot of pushing time by letting my body labor down.  So, I was happy to let it happen.  I just wished my core muscles would settle down.

At 4:00, Dr. L told me it was time to push.  Tom got stationed at my left, Julie was at my right, and Anne was in front with Doc.  I learned how to push and we got started.  Ouch...my muscles were seized up as tight as they could be.  This was hard work.

Right before it was time to push!

We continued to do three pushes with each contraction.  Eventually I got so frustrated with the pain in my core that I just shut down between the contractions and cried.  Luckily, my team was incredible.   I had the best cheering section.  I whined and cried and swore...I think I even smacked Tom a few times (sorry, honey).  

Finally, all the struggle led to excitement.  It had been about an hour and 45 minutes of pushing when everyone started to get hyper.  It was like all the people in the room were suddenly revved up, in high gear.  Tom gripped my hand tight, Anne moved over to my left side with the nurse, a resident doc took a spot next to Dr. L, I got covered with a drape, and Anne said "okay, things are getting serious now Betsy.  It's go time."  More coaching, more crying, more pushing...

Then all of the sudden I heard them saying "This is it!  He's turning...his head is almost out...there he is...it's happening Betsy!...the head is out!  PUSH!  PUSH PUSH PUSH!  Here come the shoulders...he's coming...here he comes..."

And then there he was.  THERE HE WAS.  I saw him.  Red, shiny, slippery, and TINY!  He was immediately placed on my chest.  Wow...what an amazing, immediate LOVE.  I heard him cry and held him close, praising God and feeling every single part of me relax and fall into complete bliss.  Jude grasped my finger and held on tight.  Tom and just stared at him, at each other, and back at him in complete wonder.  

Anne was clicking the camera as fast as she could, but managed to say "Can I know his name now?"  

"His name is Jude Thomas!"

I think everyone in the room let out a collective "aww!" as my husband turned our bluetooth speaker to Hey Jude.  Pretty awesome...our son's first music heard outside the womb was his name's inspiration song.  

The nurses wiped our beautiful boy's head and body, and all the while I just held onto him, listening to him breathe and cry.  My eyes were filled with tears and I remember saying "My baby...he's so tiny!...he's here!"  Thanking God over and over that he was in my arms.  What a wonder.  To carry that child in a secret, safe place for 9 months, feel him kicking and squirming, and now to feel an entire day of pressure and pain, followed by an intense period of pushing with every ounce of my energy...to feel his head, shoulders, body and limbs passing through into the world...I AM AMAZED.  Even now almost 7 weeks later, I am completely floored by this experience.  I am in awe.  Humbled, blessed, grateful.

Tom was so brave--he cut the cord!  He had said "no way" leading up to today.  I was so proud of him.

Jude needed to be taken away to get weighed, measured, and cleaned off.  The nurses took my tiny little love over to the part of the room with all the apparatus and Dr. L worked on me to finish with the placenta and stitching.  I wanted so badly to see my baby again...I tried to hear everything the nurses, Anne and Tom were saying as I laid there.  They reported to me as he was weighed and measured: "7 pounds, 6 ounces...21 inches!"  We all shared in the surprise of how little he was!  

Jude's vitals being checked by Dr. Carden, pediatric hospitalist

After the doctors were finished up with me (placenta!  stitches!  bleeding!  I won't say more!) I was finally allowed to sit up and get some water.  I was SUPER THIRSTY.  The nurse gave me a warm blanket and they handed me my beautiful son.

Tom, Jude and I had an hour to ourselves in the room for recovery.  We just sat and stared at our baby.  It was a precious time.  I was so glad we had reserved that just for us...even though I know my mom was dying with anticipation.  Luckily Anne was with the parents, filling them in on everything they needed to know!

After our hour was done, we welcomed our parents and my bro-in-law, nephew and niece into the room.  It was so emotional to see Anne's babies meet my baby for the first time.  

My nephew, Aren and niece, Allysen meeting Jude.

Happy tears from my amazing sister.

As this was happening, I realized I hadn't eaten anything all day, so Tom ran out to grab us some Jimmy Johns.  Jude got his first bath, and screamed and cried, but was soon clean and swaddled and right back with me.  

Our wonderful nurse, Julie

The time in recovery was so fast and is all a blur now, but I do remember standing up for the first time after birth, and using the bathroom...both an adventure.  There was so much blood and I think it was a little scary for Tom.  He kept himself busy walking Jude's crib down the hallway to our other room.  The nurse, Gloria, was very gentle and kind as she helped me get myself down the hall.

The family had left by the time Tom, Jude and I were settled in our cozy room.  I was starving and exhausted.  We ate our subs and rested, taking turns holding our sweet baby (who was also exhausted).  

Too soon, it was time for us to sleep.  I was sad to send my little boy off to the nursery, but every woman's words rang loud and clear in my head:  Let the nurses take care of him so you can get some rest!  So off he went.

I remember laying on my right side, comforted by some strong pain medication and a huge bottle of ice water, just staring straight forward and thinking, I did it.  I had a baby today.  It was overwhelming.  I didn't fall asleep.  I just wanted to have my baby back.  

Finally I fell asleep and slept well.  I woke up when Gloria brought Jude to me around 1:30 or 2:00 am, to try feeding.  Nursing hadn't quite clicked, but we were learning together and they reassured me he would get it.  I was so glad to have him back with me.  

Throughout the night, Gloria checked my vitals: blood pressure, temperature, my uterus (OUCH!) and pain level.  Again, it was pretty much a blur because I was so tired.  

Gloria left when morning came, and was relieved by a wonderfully friendly gal named Michelle.  I loved her.  

Tom left the hospital around 6:45 to go get some breakfast and to share the news with our buddies at Hy Vee (it was a Friday and we always have breakfast there on Fridays, and we've become friends with some elderly folks who are also Friday regulars).  I snuggled with baby Jude and we worked on nursing together.

Dr. L was about to end his call shift (aren't these doctors outstanding?) and came in to chat and check up on me.  We found out later that he'd delivered six or seven babies during that shift.  Holy wow.  He is a hero.  Dr. Tan came in as well, which I thought was nice since he didn't treat me during his call shift.  Dr. Faust even stopped by later that day--another very nice gesture.  Mason City is blessed to have these guys!

Tom came back after what seemed like forever with breakfast.  Oh man, it was the best food I'd ever had.  We just relaxed with little Jude and watched the news.  We had so many friends visit that day and I was delighted to see them all:  Dan, Molly and Leah Gerrietts, Chereen Stroup, Angie, Kylie and Makenna Hansen, my co-teacher Ernie Reineke, Loni Dirksen, Brett and Hollie Schoneman, and both of our families were there that day.

My nephew Aren with Jude

Brett took some great photos during their visit!

Hollie and Jude

Tom and I talked a lot that day about how lucky we are to have so many great people in our lives.  They are amazing, supportive friends and we couldn't be more blessed.

Jude came home with us on Saturday, April 19.  When we left the hospital, I hugged our nurse, Sara, tightly and started to cry.  I couldn't believe he was ours and he was coming home with us.  Could I do this Mom thing?  Could I really take care of this little baby and make sure he stayed alive?  I was overcome.  The care at the hospital was so thorough and personal, and now we were headed out of the room, away from the nurses, and back into the world.  

I cried on the way to the elevator, I cried all the way through the lobby, I cried getting into the Equinox, I cried all the way home, and I UGLY CRIED in our living room.  Tom promptly sent me to bed and told me everything would be fine.  We finished the day with visits from both families, a few more tears, but VERY happy and full hearts.

Wow...thanks for sticking with me through this whole post!  I'm so glad I finally get to share Jude's sweet story.  

If there is one thing I can leave you with, it's this: God is GOOD.  And FAITHFUL.  He worked all things together for good in my life.  I stand amazed.  Thank you, Lord.


  1. Love Love Love.... All you need is LOVE!!!
    Thank you for sharing your story... I still can't wait to see you and meet Jude! This summer we HAVE to make a trip to MC! :)

    I know that the blog is all about the miracle of life & your sweet baby Jude... but I couldn't help but smile and cry tears of happiness remembering the day my sweet babies were born (especially Brenden since he was the first). You were so eloquent in your telling of the story... And even more awesome!! Our first born's were exactly the same size when they were born! ;)

    My dear Betsy -- you are and will be an AMAZING MOTHER! God has chosen for you beautiful hats to wear: daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, friend... As I speak for so many, I am blessed to have you in my life and LOVE YOU TO PIECES!!!

    ~ Laura Hinspeter

    1. awww Laura. Will you be in MC for ICDA? Even if you're not, let's get something on the calendar. Love you too!

  2. Oh my gosh! You are going to make an amazing mom! You are so much fun and awesome! Can't wait to hear your next stories to come! Love, Hannah

  3. WOW, thank you so much for sharing this. I am going to be a new mom in October and I pretty much cried all the way through your post. What an amazing experience. I thank God everyday for our little blessing. I will probably return to this post and read it again in about 4-5 short months.

    -Jenny Neuman

    1. CONGRATS JENNY! I am so excited for you. I am jealous now of every pregnant woman, that they get to experience this...and I want to get pregnant again. Seriously. There is nothing like it. :) praying for you and your little blessing!

  4. I'm in tears even though I've heard this story (most of it) before. I'm so happy for you guys! I love birth stories. Each one is unique.

    1. Angie, someday we will brew a huge pot of coffee and you can tell me all FIVE (FIVE!!!!!) of your birth stories. :) love you!

  5. I can't get through a birth story with out tearing up. It is truly one of the most special times we are blessed with. I'm so glad you have all the details down, because they will fade eventually. What an amazing experience parenthood is. Cherish each moment.

  6. I loved reading this, Betsy. The love and joy for your little guy is so evident in your writing. What a treasure he is! Praising God with you.

  7. I am so happy for you and Tom! I, too, am a sucker for birth stories! I can totally relate to all the tears shed as you left the hospital to venture into the real world. I remember crying all the way home (35 min+) when we brought our first born home...and many more tears were shed during those first few weeks as I figured out this whole new mom thing. Here I am almost ready for Baby 3 and I am looking forward to meeting this little one as much as I was the first time around. Maybe this time around I can do it with fewer tears and more smiles. Or maybe not. :)