Mack Jacob Whiting: A Birth Story
I'd been warned around week 30 when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes that everything would be highly monitored my last six weeks, and that at week 38 we would make the official judgement call if I'd need to have a c-section. I honestly feared having one, knowing it's not the end of the world, but also knowing recovery is slower and we have two very busy mothers who can't take time off work to come help. I also knew Jacob's few days off would be spent in the delivery process, and I knew I'd be okay if I could rest for a week after a vaginal birth without much help.
At 36 weeks a crazy monsoon storm hit Arizona, and I'd been warned by friends that monsoons with their pressure changes often throw women into labor. There are a lot of storm babies in August and September. During my non-stress test that week they informed me that I was having regular contractions every five minutes that lasted about a minute. I had no idea those were contractions, I thought it was the baby's long legs pushing against my ribs for a minute here or there. He always kicked after a contraction, and it just felt like he was busy! Without much pain they told me to keep an eye out and to come back if they started feeling painful. A few days later a storm hit and I almost went into the hospital. All my muscles hurt and my back in particular was killing me. I somehow slept through most of the night and stayed off delivery- thank goodness, I wasn't full term yet!
Week 38 rolled around and I almost jumped for joy to hear his belly circumference was measuring a week behind schedule (the measurement that really counts), and that c-section scheduling was off the table. However, the little guy was measuring 68th percentile, and if he didn't come by his due date I needed to be induced due to increasing risks with the diabetes. I had no progress with my body, but it looked like he was measuring one to two weeks ahead of schedule and had I not been so close to the end my due date likely would have been moved up.
Contractions came off and on all of week 38-39 and I just kept wondering if my body would ever progress.
We 39 came, and we officially had no progression, tons of contractions, and decided to schedule an induction the 21st of September, just two days before my due date.
We enjoyed our last weekend without a baby together. It's so exciting to have a baby come, but it's also a little bittersweet to kiss an era of life you've so loved goodbye. I could have been a newlywed with Jacob my whole life and never tired of that phase. We have had so much fun, and we both have expressed we're sad to have to plan out dates a little better, to have to budget for babysitters, and to have to share attention. Even with that said, we know our time for kids has been a long time coming and we've always wanted them. We were both feeling very ready for him to come!
Sunday night my parents stopped by with some food for the week and my husband and my father gave me a priesthood blessing for health, strength, and comfort during delivery. It's amazing how that can put your mind at ease. I was still nervous the Pitocin wouldn't work as should and I'd end up with a c-section. After the blessing I knew everything would be fine, and we went ahead and double checked our bags were packed with all we needed and we were ready for our 9:00 am appointment.
A storm started to roll in that afternoon and we just prayed a bed would be open before the pressure changed even more- or that it would actually throw me into labor! We were so sad to call in earlier than told and hear they didn't have an openings, and to try back an hour before we were scheduled. When I called back, they told me it wouldn't be ready at 9:00 and they would try to get me in before noon. I almost cried tears of frustration, but spent the morning cleaning and prepping food for later in the week. We also said hey, let's take advantage of our last time together alone and go to breakfast. And that's just what we did!
Breakfast at 9:00 on a Monday is a funny thing, we enjoyed watching a lot of retired people hanging out, and one lady next to us fell asleep reading the newspaper. We were also very excited and very happy that I was about to be done with counting every carb!
As it got closer to noon I started to worry- what a waste of a maternity leave day when a lot was going on at work, and a PTO day for Jacob! I decided to proactively call and they told me a bed would be open at 1:00 and to come in then! We got excited and nervous and ran to get a quick bite of lunch before starting the marathon process. I was so nervous I could hardly eat. I started to get a bit worried about what was coming, and I could feel my stomach getting upset. My friend taught me the term "excitearrhea" and yes, it's important detail that you know that this hit me just as we went to check in at the hospital. I ran to the bathroom and thought what a change from pregnancy constipation, and happy that I may not have bowel movements during delivery.
I changed into my hospital gown and luckily we thought to take at least one quick picture of the last time I'd be pregnant with Mack! I felt so huge, but it's kind of precious already to see this final state of pregnancy and to remember the sacrifice that was that last month of pregnancy.
It took until almost 2:30 to get things started, but they decided to go ahead and try to soften and dilate me with Misprostol- a tiny pill inserted vaginally that is supposed to help soften and ripen the cervix. The good news is I went in dilated to a 1 on my own, and I was 50% effaced, so we knew we had a ways to go and probably three doses of Misprostol, one every four hours, before we'd start seeing progress. We also had hopes that my body would respond well since there was some progress on its own, and still hoped a c-section was off the table.
My doctor was in the hospital and came by to see me at 4:30, happy to see that there was some progress already, but told me due to the late induction we would likely have a baby the following afternoon. She told me they'd do two more doses, I'd probably hurt some in the middle or end of the night, could get an epidural, sleep a few hours, and she'd come in early the next morning to break my water, start Pitocin, and go from there. We let all our family members know they would hear about some updates in the morning and to let go of the dream of the baby being born on Earth, Wind, and Fire day/the Fall Equinox. We also had our dear friend Annie who takes our anniversary pictures offer to do a birth photography session. We let her know early the next morning it was and not to worry about coming that night. I was having steady contractions, but nothing more than what I'd felt at home and I figured we'd just hang out the rest of the night and brace ourselves for some pain and the real action in the morning.
At 5:00 they told us I could have 50 minutes to go walk if I wanted to, I took advantage and felt restless in the bed, so we walked the entire time! I'm pretty proud in retrospect that I walk for about 8% of my active labor, although at the time, I had no idea that's the phase I was in!
At 6:30 I was given my second dose, and sent Jacob to run get us some food- it was stormy and the monsoon had hit, and I really wanted some soup and a sandwich! I figured it was the last pregnancy craving and only the second time I'd sent him to run get something on demand. He did, and we also realized we'd forgot something we really needed at home and asked my parents to get it and swing by the hospital. I started watching The Voice and thought how one day I'd tell Mack what show I watched with what singers and he'd laugh about it. It seemed to distract me as my contractions started getting a little longer and a little stronger, while I waited for he and my parents to arrive. I was convinced that pre-labor was ramping up and we'd be in active labor in the next few hours. Jacob and my parents arrived around 8:00, and I made it through the contractions and storm changes and I ate the soup and sandwich gladly. It was lucky for us I got in a good meal at about the last possible moment I could! My mom and dad stayed for about 20 minutes and then my mom just sensed it was probably time to go. I thanked them and told them to enjoy work the next day and maybe on their lunch break we'd have some good news.
They walked out the door and only minutes later I started really hurting through contractions and needed to start the breathing exercises we'd learned in our birthing class. Jacob was a champion and did them with me, and helped me do some of the distracting tricks they had showed up to count through breaths and to relax during the pain. The nurse came in and checked me and it was the most painful part of my whole labor, I cried through it and she was not gentle! She let me know I'd softened but was only dilated a little more. I figured we were in for a very long night!
I kept having intense contractions, but I was managing the pain pretty well focusing and breathing through each one. Within the next 30 minutes I looked up at the monitor to see my contractions doubling in intensity and getting very close together. In fact, when one ended I could barely catch my breath and relax and then another one would start. I got to the point after only a few contractions that all were incredibly intense and that they were coming one on top of another, each larger than the previous.
A little before 9:00 pm I started to fear I was going to wet the bed, and once again felt like I was going to have a strong bowel movement- excitarrhea was not going away. They unhooked me from the many things monitoring me, and I ran to the bathroom when the deepest, heaviest contractions hit. I started crying like I did during the nurse exam, it hurt about the same, and begged Jacob to come help me. He ran in and braced me, and comforted me while I cried. We both knew the influence of gravity while standing up had kicked something else in gear. I was able to go to the bathroom as I tried so hard to focus on anything but the pain. He and the nurse helped me back up into the bed.
The contractions continued to hit one on top of another, I was breathing through them the best I could, but they were getting intense and I was having a really hard time. I figured I'd just entered active labor, and I really didn't want an epidural until I was at the end of that phase. I tried so hard to tough it all out. At one point I asked Jacob to rub my back where the pain was the worst, I'd had him do this at home and it always helped during contractions. This time, however, it sent shooting pain down my spine and started bigger contractions. I was so discouraged that nothing was going to help and it seemed everything we knew to try to help was actually making it stronger and worse. I started convulsing during contractions too and couldn't stop the shaking. After about an hour of going through these crazy contractions and feeling like every muscle in my body hurt, and after a few more that brought me to tears full of convulsions I asked for an epidural.
As the nurse called for the nurse anesthetist to come I just felt terrible and mad at myself for getting one much earlier than I planned. I seriously thought I was in active labor and couldn't make it more than an hour through it. This didn't change our original plan- I'd get this epidural around 10:30, it should calm my body down, and we'd wake up very early to Pitocin and the doctor coming in to break my water. I decided calming down and sleeping sounded like the perfect plan!
I had such an amazing epidural, and I can't thank the nurse anesthetist enough for how caring he was, how much he involved me in checking it was in the right place and helping on both sides, and making sure it wasn't too strong and I could still feel what was going on in my body. We had to go slowly getting it in since the contractions and convulsions were so bad and so strong. He was so patient and supportive of what I wanted. Within 10 minutes I was already doing a little better. I cracked some joke about sudden movements and I could see the worry in Jacob's face leave. He said out loud, "You're joking again!" We both knew it had been a rough hour and pain like I hadn't felt before. I had even turned to Jacob and announced, "This is it, we're only having one kid! I'm not sure I can do this all night!" The smart man just calmly said, "Okay!" It really was the worst part of labor and pain I haven't experienced before.
The nurse checked me at this point since we knew it wouldn't hurt like it had, I was almost dilated to a 5, totally soft, and making fast progress! She rolled me onto my side and I heard her turn to Jacob and announce I'd been in transition during this time. I wanted to sit up even in my sleepy state- WHAT! Transition! If you don't know the phases that's the last one before pushing/delivery, and it's the one you want to give yourself your own c-section to stop because it's so intense and painful. It's pretty terrible and everyone says that's the thing to brace yourself for. I felt SO much better hearing I was actually getting to the end of the window I could even get an epidural, and I'd actually been in more pain longer than I needed to be. I'd done it- I'd made my goal to make it to the end (and past the end) of active labor before I started any pain medication of any kind! If I get to have another, I know I can get an epidural much sooner if I choose and not go through that hour of hell I experienced.
I've always been a sound sleeper and able to sleep through a lot of pain, so the epidural calmed me down just enough to let me roll over and fall asleep around 10:15. The nurse told me she'd come check on me and roll me from side to side every two hours. I started on my right, she came in and moved a very groggy and sleepy Camille to the left a little after midnight, and told me to make sure to call her if there was any pressure.
I woke up at 2:00 feeling like the epidural was heavy on the left side and that my right side needed me to flip over a few minutes earlier. I also felt some pressure, but it was once again like a bowel movement. I wanted to roll my eyes again thinking how these had come at very inopportune times. I looked at Jacob asleep and thought, I'll wait the 15 minutes until the nurse comes to wake him up and just deal with the numb left leg and pray I don't crap all over the place before they get a bedpan.
I had kind of a spiritual prompting at 2:10 that this wasn't a time to be considerate of everyone else, and I really needed to call the nurse and talk to her about the increasing pressure. She came in and helped me turn to my right quickly. She then did an exam and announced I was between an 8 and a 9, that my water had just broke, and she was going to call the doctor. Baby's heart rate started going down while I was on my right and she made me go back to my left even though she knew I'd be more numb. I didn't know what was going on, but another nurse came in and when I looked up, I saw the baby's area all prepped and ready to go, and the nurse announced, "It's time to start pushing."
WHAT? This came as a shock to me, it was 2:00 not 7:00, and I couldn't believe it! I also got nervous the doctor would miss the delivery, and I really love my doctor and wanted her there!
Pushing at first came easy and is a weird sensation with an epidural. You're aware of what is going on in your body and what it's doing, but you're also not really in pain knowing you should be. Seriously, I know I got lucky and had a great one that was the perfect dose for me! I pushed for about 30 minutes with contractions with Jacob and two nurses. I then felt the epidural wearing down and they came in and gave me a little more which was the perfect amount. The doctor showed up around this time too, and before we knew it things were getting very real.
I had about 25-30 more minutes of pushing for an hour total. It felt easy at first, but as time went on I could tell there was a lot of muscle exhaustion and it was getting harder to stay strong. My doctor was as amazing as could be; joking around with me, encouraging me, and keeping the atmosphere light and fun. As she started seeing the head she announced he was likely bald. I had figured this may be the case, I've had more natural blond highlights this pregnancy than any other time of life, so I knew I was likely having a blondie. As I pushed more and was in one of my final pushes she stated, "Oh there's fuzz! Just enough to spray paint any color you'd like!" I burst out laughing and couldn't finish my push.
A few pushes later they noticed his heart dropping a bit and the umbilical cord near his neck. My doctor told me to push hard and also made a quick decision to do a partial cut to make sure he was fine and didn't get choked by the cord. For someone who really didn't want an episiotomy I'm grateful for a doctor who made the right call and did such a minor cut to save the baby any distress without really causing much trauma or problem to me. Within a few minutes I could hear her and my husband and the nurses all getting excited and announced he was coming as they caught him.
It took a minute to hear a cry, and I started to panic. "He's not crying! Why isn't he crying?" My doctor told me to wait a minute he was just working the fluid out of his lungs, and shortly after a little cry came and my heart rejoiced to hear a healthy, alive baby working his new body. He was pink and extremely alert, mellow, and I just was in shock to see this little person and think he had been inside of me!
They instantly set him on top of my chest after wiping away a little mess, and it was almost instant that my little boy looked up at his mom. The moment I said hello and how happy I was to meet him, he stopped any fussing and looked deep into my eyes. I looked deep into his, and I started to tear up. I couldn't believe this moment was real, I couldn't believe after so many years of hoping and praying for a baby there was a healthy, perfect soul on my chest. I swear he looked deep into my eyes and gave me a little smile. It was almost like he was saying "Thanks for getting me here" with this look of appreciation and recognition that I'm his mom- and he knew it just by looking at me and hearing my voice. We've waited a long time to meet each other, and with all the fertility treatments and extra time in addition to pregnancy, I think there was a special understanding that we'd finally done it- we finally got him here!
Jacob turned around and grabbed my phone while this was happening, and I'll forever be grateful that the moment we met he was able to capture.
He also made sure to get our first family selfie- complete with me all teared up!
When they laid Mack on my chest and I stared at those big, beautiful, alert eyes I was pretty shocked to see very dark eyes. We don't have dark eye genes on my side (green, blue, and in between as a hazel is all), and the Whiting family has all blue with a few hazel too. When I saw the dark eyes my first reaction was shock. I thought, "Oh no, they mixed up babies! This can't be mine, he has dark eyes!" I know they change within the first year and what they are born with rarely sticks. I'm also seeing weeks later that they are flirting with a very deep blue shade. I guess time will tell, and Jacob does have a distant relative from Mexico with darker eyes, so maybe that one gene won out! But during his birth, had I not seen him come out of me and have him instantly placed on my chest I probably would have let the nurse know it wasn't my baby! Good news, he is, and I'll gladly keep his cute little self even if he ends up with eyes and hair and any other coloring that doesn't match me or Jacob. We certainly have every hair color and skin color in our gene pools!
He weighed in at 7 lbs 11 ounces and was 21 inches long. He was healthy, he was happy, he took his shots like a champ and barely cried.
Any time he heard my voice or Jacob's voice he calmed right down. The nurses commented what a good natured baby we had, and that he was sure extra cute for a minutes old baby! He had a cone head pretty bad a bruise on the back of his head from birth, but luckily most people don't look back there, so he looked like a very good-looking, healthy newborn!
All I can say is I've never seen a doting father quite like Jacob! I'm glad I had my phone within reach when they took Mack to clean him up and do all the routine procedures so I can always remember the hovering, the smiles, the doting, and the absolute love on Jacob's face.
They brought him back in only a diaper and hat for some skin to skin time. I have a whole post planned for the Kangaroo Care method and thoughts on that, but I'll tell you know I'll always treasure those first 30 minutes of time alone
After this they found one repercussion from the gestational diabetes- Mack had really low blood sugar even after some nursing time due to the lack of food I'd had during labor. In a way it worked out, even though I didn't want to do formula, and I had to make sure he was okay, and he was able to have his dad feed him and bond with his dad instantly.
We were transferred to recovery pretty quickly after, and had the happiest child that we couldn't stop staring at.
With the cutest small yet long feet ever! I didn't want to ever forget these little things since I know one day I'll have a tall skinny boy who will tower over me.