Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Birth of Jonah Lawrence

My oh my, how 12 weeks have flown. I was standing in the dinning room tonight after everyone was sound asleep looking at a photo of Jonah when he was one precious day old. I cried a little. Feeling really emotional lately. Probably the birth control that I had to start on Sunday. Regardless, I am enjoying with my sweet boy. But cannot help but feel a little sad that he is growing very fast. Figured it was time to write his birth story and relive it a little.

Now that I am starting to sort of get the hang of being a mama and homemaker, I hope to make time to blog more often. Even if it's just a couple times a month. I'd like to fit that time in to jot down little things and chronicle Jonah's growth and milestones. It's good (and free) therapy too :) So, my next post will be more about what life has been like with Jonah and all the ups and downs. I am happy to report that there haven't been many downs. This little Eckhardt household is doing pretty darn good.

I have thought about how to write Jonah's birth story many times. There have been nights that I couldn't sleep because I have so many thoughts and emotions toward it. So this will probably be long and wordy. Go ahead and grab a cup of hot tea or a glass of wine.

Here is my last bump shot that Josh took at 41w3d.

I had a lot of mixed feelings about this photo at the time. Relieved that I would be done (I was so swollen) and my nearly constant braxton hicks would soon be gone yet a bit sad that the time of feeling my baby boy squirm around inside was coming to an end. Jonah was such a mover, I loved watching my belly move and guessing what body part was pressing against me.

As you know, we had been at a birth center that we absolutely loved. They were all cheering us on and keeping us encouraged that baby could come at anytime. They knew I was getting nervous about approaching 42 weeks as I would not be able to deliver there. An induction was scheduled for the morning of Thursday, April 25th at 8 am. My last "natural" option to induce was to take castor oil. Josh and I really wanted to have an intervention free birth experience so on Wednesday morning (the 24th) I took the castor oil. However I only took half of the recommended amount because I was pretty nervous about all of the diarrhea and vomiting (I mixed it with applesauce in case anyone was curious). I knew that there was a very good chance that I would be induced the next morning and I didn't want to deplete myself. It was a good thought...however that little bit of castor oil had a big time effect on me.

After about an hour I had diarrhea and felt like I had the flu. Very nauseous, clammy, sweaty yet had the shivers. I took the second dose at 1 pm and very quickly after that I threw up and had more diarrhea. As bad as it tasted going down it was even worse coming up.

Here I am that afternoon. I knew this would be my very last bump shot at home.
{ironically I wore this yellow dress the day of our embryo transfer}

Josh was getting ready for work (he needed to leave by 2:20 pm) and at 2 pm I was laying on the couch resting. I heard and felt a "pop" in my pelvic area. It startled me so I hurried to the bathroom and there was a ton of blood and mucus. I yelled for Josh and we both just kind of looked at each other. I knew there was supposed to be bloody show when labor started but this was A LOT of blood. I had no idea what it was or what was happening. I called my friend Tenisha and she didn't even say hello when she answered. She said "are you in labor?!?!" and I said "ummm I think". I explained to her what was going on and I was trying to stay calm. While on the phone with her I had my first contraction. Things got real. Tenisha thought it was my mucus plug and that I was most likely going into labor. We got a hold of Norla (midwife) and decided to go to the birth center to make sure everything was ok. Tenisha was right, it was my plug and I was in labor.

The bleeding eased up by time we got there (it's about 12 minutes away from our house). We arrived at about 3 pm and my contractions we getting stronger. Norla was so excited to finally see me in labor even though I was scared. I was still really sick, having diarrhea during labor is no cake walk. I probably should have just worn an adult diaper because hurrying to the bathroom during a contraction is very very difficult. We stayed at the birth center for about an hour while Jonah was being monitored. He was doing very well, handling the contractions perfectly. I had only dialated to a 1, almost 2. Norla sent us home to labor for a while and reminded us that this is just the beginning, it could be a long road since it's my first.

She didn't lie.

Josh had to pull over on the way home so I could get out of the car. My contractions started out incredibly strong and close together. I probably had 6 contractions just on the ride home. When we (finally) got home, I wanted to lay in the bathtub and eat a popsicle. We got our handy dandy contraction timer app ready and labor music on. I probably got into the tub around 4:15 pm and from then on my contractions went in waves of 1:45 to 3 minutes apart. And they stayed like that for the next SIX hours at home.

I spent most of the time in the tub/shower. Josh poured water over me for hours and hours. I really cannot even put into words how amazing he was. I had really considered hiring a doula since this was my first and I wanted a natural birth experience. Josh and I had no clue what we were doing lol. But I'm so grateful I didn't. We did it together. Me, Josh and Jonah. Josh never left me, ever. I had to remind him to eat and go to the bathroom. He had officially seen me at my worst. Vomiting, throwing up, bodily fluids everywhere. Yet he told me I was beautiful. He loved me. I was amazing. I was strong and my body was made for this. He made me buttered noodles to try to get some carbs in me and cut up fresh strawberries for a little sugar and hydration.

I sit here and cry remembering that. I cherish that side of Josh that probably shocks many of our family and friends. The man loves me and our baby unconditionally. Would do anything in the world for us. He has such a sweet, tender heart. I know it hurt him to see me in such pain, but he knew laboring without drugs was the best choice for us. I couldn't have had a natural labor experience without a supportive and involved husband.

My water broke sometime around 6 pm. At 9:45 pm, I was feeling confident that I had made some progress. I had to have! I was practically in transition labor for almost 6 hours. We just kept waiting for the contractions to slow down but they never did. We called Norla and told her we were ready to come back to the birth center. She was shocked to hear about my contractions and also felt confident that I had made progress. The car ride to the birth center was....hell. Such a nightmare. We have a Subaru Outback so I made the decision to stay on my hands and knees in the hatchback. We brought along my puke bucket and bags. Even in the midst of the pain and intensity, I realized that this would be our last time walking out of our home as a family of two. We would come back with our baby boy.

I felt EVERY bump and curve going to the birth center. I would tell Josh to hurry up but then if he hit a bump or swerved too hard I would tell him to slow down lol. I'm pretty sure we hit every red light as well. It was rough and I'm sure many of you laboring mothers can relate. We arrived at the birth center at about 10:30 pm. Managed to make it to the steps of the birth center before the next contraction hit. Josh and I can agree that it was such a sweet relief to see Norla waiting for us. I had to work through my contraction on the steps of the birth center before I could go in and Norla already had many encouraging words for us. I think that was the first time I had smiled in hours.

When we went inside it was dim and warm. It was just the three of us which was such a blessing. Norla checked me and we were all eager to see what progression I had made.

I was dilated to a 2.


I couldn't believe it, I was shocked. I was confused. How is that possible??

I knew that stressing about it wouldn't help anything. We played our labor music and got my mind refocused on labor. I got into the labor tub (which is huge and amazing) and Josh continued to pour warm water down my back as my contractions remained intense and just as close together as they were at our home.

We labored all night long and I continued to throw up (puke bowl is next to me in the above photo). I labored in the tub, shower, squatting, leaning over the bed, hands and knees...whatever felt best. The water was my favorite though. It would feel "good" when Josh or Norla rubbed my back during contractions or squeezed my hips. 

I was becoming exhausted and really losing energy. Around 5 am Norla checked me and I could tell by the look on her face she didn't have good news for me. I had labored at the birth center for about 6.5 hours and 14 hours total. Hard labor, contractions never getting over 3 minutes apart. After all that, I had dilated to a hard three (meaning it was barely a three). For the first time in my labor I cried. Not because of the pain either. I felt so defeated and confused. How was this happening!?!? Better yet, why wasn't this happening?? My hormones were doing their job but my body wasn't responding. Jonah was handling the labor very well (we were periodically monitoring his heart rate. Not sure how often, I was trying to not  pay attention to the time.) and seemed to be in the right position. My cervix wasn't opening and I was running out of time for my natural birth experience.

After struggling to get pregnant for 2 years and feeling like a failure, I finally felt normal when I got pregnant. It was the most incredible feeling, I felt so whole and beautiful. But when I was failing to progress during labor so many emotions from my infertility days came back. Like a wave. I was beyond frustrated and knew that I would have to go the hospital because I was officially 42 weeks and wasn't progressing. It was heartbreaking. I felt like I let Josh down, and more importantly Jonah. Josh and I both wanted this natural birth experience for Jonah. We felt like we owed our baby this intervention free birth experience. He had already had so many hands involved in conceiving him. Though we are grateful for those hands, we just wanted this last part to be the three of us...well 5 including Norla and a nurse. Not in a cold and hard environment with blinding lights and beeping noises. Hands that were warm, perhaps even my hands grabbing him as he was being born.


Because I was dehydrated and exhausted, Norla went ahead and gave me an IV to get some fluids in me and some anti-nausea medication in hopes that I would gain some strength before we went to the hospital at 8 am. She had a really hard time getting a vain for the IV. This isn't normally an issue for me but because I was dehydrated it was a struggle. I was pretty emotional and cried as she poked and prodded. She tried once in my hand and then once above my wrist. She gave up on that side and had success on my right hand. My left hand and wrist stayed bruised for about 6 weeks, my wrist probably 8 weeks.

I got back into the tub and left my right hand out of the water (because of the IV) and something magical happened. I fell the water with my arms draped over the side of the tub. Josh fell asleep on the bed while Norla periodically checked on us (and Jonah's heart rate). We slept for about an hour and a half probably and woke up to a very sunny and peaceful room. I remember it being so quiet and savoring that moment of peace. I knew things were about to get really hectic and emotional. I got out of the tub and got dressed. Our time at the birth center was over. 


I didn't say much as we packed up our belongings. We were all so tired and sad to be leaving. I remember feeling a little angry too. Angry at my body and whoever said I couldn't go past 42 weeks. Even now I can't help but wonder if I had been given just a few more days what the outcome would have been like. Jonah was fine, my body just wasn't quite ready. I know many people are probably saying "the end result is the same, Brandy. What does it matter?!" It just does. To me. I laid in bed many sleepless night dreaming about our natural birth experience. But even though we were bummed Norla reminded us that we had done everything we could and did a great job. My labor was very abnormal and intense for such a long period of time.Very few women transfer from the birth center to the hospital. When is happens, it has to happen. 

We loaded up in the car and my contractions started to come back. Norla even came with us to the hospital which meant the world to me. My mom isn't really apart of my life anymore, Norla loved and cared for me as if I were her daughter. I will always be so grateful for her. That is one of the main reasons why we love the birth center so much, they do not treat you like another patient. You are treated with love, respect, gentleness and worth.

We got to our room around 8:30 am. Josh helped me change from my clothes that I had planned on delivering in to a hospital gown. I cried a bit as that seemed so symbolic to me. I touched my belly felling my baby boy move knowing that he was now going to be introduced with more medical intervention. They would soon hook me up to Pitocin (Pit) to make my contractions stronger.

After they started Pit, the lady in the room next to me was screaming while pushing her baby out. We all looked at each other just waiting for that sound....and there it was. All you heard was a sweet cry of a brand new baby. I needed that SO bad. It really helped me refocus on my labor and birthing my baby. I was beyond ready to hear his cry, no matter how it came.

The time at the hospital seems like a blur. The Pit kicked in pretty quickly and I continued to labor as best as I could without any other interventions. They had a labor ball there for me to bounce and rock on which helped a bit. I sat on it while leaning over the bed, trying to keep my hips open. Josh and Norla took turns rubbing my lower back during contractions (which picked back up to the 3 minute or less rate) and holding a heating pad on me. They wanted to up the Pit because I still wasn't progressing. I was very resistant and they agreed to let me labor for half an hour more (I think) before they were going to up it. I focused really hard on keeping my moans deep and imagining my cervix opening with ever contraction. 

The nurse came back to check me and determine if I needed more pit. By this time it was probably around noon. I honestly cannot remember, Josh isn't home otherwise I'd ask him. But he probably wasn't paying attention to the time either. The nurse checked me and I was a soft 3, almost 4. So I had made hardly any progression. Crazy intense natural contractions+21 hours of  hard labor+Pit=3 cm. 

Awesome. <sarcasm>

They increased the Pit and started to talk to me about an epidural. No, no way!!!! I was in pain but I was not going to get an epidural. (This is  random but I have to add it in. At the hospital they made me wear a blood pressure cuff the WHOLE time I was in labor. It would go off every...5 minutes or something like that. I cannot express how painful and ANNOYING it was when I was having a contraction. And distracting. One time Norla took it off for me and said she didn't care if the nurses got mad lol. I hated that thing.) So after arguing about the epidural Norla tried to explain to me that it would mostly be beneficial to allow my body to rest while the contractions took over. She told me that I was running out of time before they would start talking about a C-Section. I trusted Norla and Josh and I agreed to go ahead with it.

It was now around 1 pm. When the anesthesia (I wasn't sure how to spell that but "luckily" I have a $900 bill from the anesthesia people sitting on the desk right next to me. Fun.) guy came in I'm pretty sure I didn't even say hello. He was the last person I wanted to see. In my eyes he was the enemy and I had to put down my shield and let him win. The epidural was very hard to do because my contractions were still so close together. He had to do the epidural during three contractions. When one would pass I yelled "ok, hurry!" It hurt really bad when he put the needle in. It probably didn't help that I started to have another contraction as he was finishing and he kept saying "don't move!".

I laid down after he finished and it started to kick in pretty quickly. Except something wasn't right. My left side was still feeling the contractions and my right side was somewhat numb. It was such a weird feeling! But if I was going to have an epidural I wanted it to work. The anesthesiologist came back in and increased my epidural amount and had me lean to the left. It still didn't work and I just had to deal with it. Oh keep in mind that they kept upping the Pit too. Having half of my body numb didn't matter, I still felt the pain.

I labored like this til about 3 pm and the nurse checked my progression. I had now been in labor for 25 hours and needed good news. I was at a 4. Not good. Not good at all. The nurse said that she needed to call "my OB" (who I never saw, she runs the birth center though) and talk figure out what our next steps are. I knew what it was going to be. I had done a lot of research about labor and delivery and knew that if I was failing to progress and had been in labor for 24 hours that they were going to c-section me. Deep down I knew it had to be done, I was at the point of no return. The nurse came back in pretty quickly with another nurse to inform us that we indeed needed a c-section. While she is explaining it to me I'm having contractions and trying to control my emotions. I didn't really listen very well to her, I just let her say what she was legally obligated to say.

I remember apologizing to Josh over and over again. I told him I couldn't do it anymore, I needed my labor to be over. We cried and he told me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me. He assured me that I did a good job and that this needed to happen so we could meet our baby. I had a really bad meltdown when they pulled ripped the tape off my back to take the epidural out. I screamed a bit and shouted "that hurt!!! The epidural didn't work!" I don't curse, but I wanted to at that moment. I cried really hard and just wanted it all to be over with.

They gave me a shot of some disgusting liquid crap to drink to help prevent me from throwing up with in surgery. Ha! I drank it and within seconds threw it up. I was laying down and threw up all in my hair, ear and on my pillow that I brought from home (it got trashed). Things were moving really fast and my contractions continued, even without the Pit. I remember asking how soon they could get me into the OR because I was done. They said 4 pm which was only 30 minutes away. I asked Josh to call his mom because if for some reason they needed to take Jonah away for medical reasons I wanted Josh to stay with him and Jeri to be with me.

It was finally time. They wheeled me out and told Josh to grab our camera. That's when it really hit me. After 25 hours of labor, we were finally going to hold our baby. When they opened the door to take me to the OR, Jeri (Josh's mom) was standing in the hall outside the room. I wanted to hug her so badly. She mouthed "it's ok" to me and I felt very grateful to have her as a mom. I am crying now as I remember that. I was excited that the next time I'd see her she would have a new grandson to hold.

I got to the OR and it was absolutely freezing in there. Again, so sad that Jonah would be born in this environment. They sat me on the table to give me a spinal and before they did that a nurse walked in and in the hallway I saw my husband. Leaning against the wall with his "dad scrubs" on, camera in hand. We made eye contact and smiled as the door closed. The spinal didn't hurt as bad as the epidural. But it could have been a mental thing too. I was ready for the spinal because I knew labor would be over. I laid down and couldn't feel anything past my ribs. Crazy...such an out of body experience. I knew they were doing things and I could feel thing pulling on me but I couldn't feel pain or any sensations.

They finally let Josh in, he may have waited in the hall for 10-15 minutes. He sat down to the right of my head and tried to smile. But behind his glasses were eyes full of tears of worry, anxiety and exhaustion. Still, just yesterday we were sitting on the sofa and he tells me how scared he was that something was going to happen to Jonah and I. Josh is never afraid. He is always positive and optimistic and assumes everything will work out. But I guess things change when it involves your spouse and child. He tells me that the OR number is 21. We both cried. This is a very special number to us. It's a long story but this number always pops up...sometimes it's kind of creepy.

Josh even took a picture of the outside of the OR :)

They were ready to begin and asked us if we were ready to meet our baby. The nurse behind me stroked my hair and talked me through what was going on. There were probably 7-10 people in there and they were all incredibly amazing. They knew we had gone through IVF and seemed so excited to be apart of this final journey with us. They kept calling him a miracle and wanted to know his name. But we kept it a secret until he was official born.

The OB asked if we were ready and then all of a sudden we heard a cry. Our son. Our Jonah. Everyone said he was so beautiful but my eyes were too full of tears to see him. Josh kissed me on the head a million times as we cried with joy and relief. They took him over to the heater table very quickly before they brought him to me. They placed him on my chest and my life felt so complete.

Jonah stopped crying as soon as they put him on my chest, he knew I was mama.

My very favorite moment was when he put his tiny cold fingers in my mouth. I sucked on them and kissed him, my sweet sweet boy.

Worth it. Every single bit of it.

The nurses asked us "what is his name!??!" I looked at Josh and asked him if I could say it. He said yes and I could hardly speak. "His name is Jonah. It means peace."

Finally, a family of three.

Daddy keeping contact and love with Jonah.

7lb 9 oz 20 inches born at 4:31 pm on April 25, 2013

I will never be able to thank Josh enough for taking photos. I know it was a hard balance to be in the moment and trying to capture it as well. Great job, babe!

A very proud daddy! (Don't mind me in the background puking as they stitch me up. I couldn't feel it but they were tugging really hard and making me feel nauseous. Plus I was exhausted.) Thankful for the nurse who took this picture of Josh and Jonah :)

All stitched up and ready to go back to the room. I loved that they let me hold Jonah as they wheeled me back to the room. I felt like such a proud mama bear! I look a bit relieved :)

Hungry baby. I wasn't even in the right state of mind :( I hate that I didn't get much skin to skin contact with him right after he was born and nurse him tight away. So much had happened, so many people in our room.

So perfect.

Everyone still comments on his bright eyes :) So alert!

Big yawn!!!

::gush:: dimples

Recovery was hard. I was having really bad sciatic pain and it was hard to sit. But I couldn't really stand or walk for a couple of days. Even after those couple of days I was very slow moving. But worse off all I developed postpartum hypertension. My blood pressure was very high which is common with women who have prolonged labor. My blood pressure was actually on the low side during pregnancy. I was actually eating high sodium things so I wouldn't feel faint. Then as soon as Jonah was born it sky rocketed. 120/80 is normal and they didn't want to see the bottom number go over 105. It jumped all over the place, 130/98-160/110. I didn't take any actual pain killers, just Tylenol and ibuprofen. I do not handle pain killers well and even though I was hurting the last thing I wanted was throwing up with recovering from a c-section! So they said my BP could be high because of the pain. They told us to monitor it and if the bottom number got over 105 then to call.

We finally got to go home on Sunday the 28th. The night before Josh and Jeri had cleaned up the house and got everything ready for our arrival :) It was a great feeling knowing that I was coming home to a tidy home. I was still too sore to put Jonah in his going home outfit which made me sad. But I got some pictures of Josh doing a really good job dressing our little baby boy.

Home sweet home. Look at his wrinkly little ear!

After all those bump shots, here is the final product.

We continued to monitor my BP while we were at home. It hadn't really gone down and on Tuesday night it  had risen to 180/120. I knew that was high but didn't realize how dangerously high that was until the next day. I called labor and delivery and asked them what I should do and they said go to the ER. Well it was 11 pm and I wasn't about to take my 5 day old baby to the ER. What was weird was that I felt pretty fine. I was tired and lethargic but I was still recovering from labor and now taking care of a baby. But I didn't feel "off" or dizzy. Josh really wanted me to go in but we compromised that if it was still high in the morning I would go in without a fight. Sure enough, it was still just as high the next morning.

I was really upset about it. I cried so much because I didn't want to leave Jonah and I knew I would have to pump and Josh would give him a bottle. I wasn't ready to pump, I didn't even know how to! I wasn't ready for Jonah to have a bottle yet nor did I want to miss Josh feeding him for the first time. Ughh, it still makes me sad. Jeri came over and took me to the ER since I couldn't drive because of my surgery. She knew I was worried and upset, I'm so thankful she was able to take me though. She sat and talked to me as we waited for the doctor (which just so happened to be a cousin of ours!!! Thank God.) and tried to talk about things other than my blood pressure. Anyway, they gave me some BP medication and it helped within hours. I took that for 6 weeks and was fine after that. I still check my BP periodically but it has been back to normal.

Obviously Jonah's birth did not go according to plan. Almost 3 months later and I am still a little disappointed. I've laid in bed at night shedding tears thinking about it. But there was nothing I could have done differently. I tried very very hard and had incredible support from Josh and Norla. In my opinion, my body wasn't ready. Labor was forced and my body rejected it because it wasn't time. This is why the C-Section rate is ridiculously high in America. But they wouldn't let me go past 42 weeks so I didn't really have a say in the matter. But even in the commotion and derailing of our birth plan, hearing him cry for the first time takes all the sadness and disappointment away. Jonah, our peace, is perfect and healthy. He is a very good and happy baby that loves to cuddle. We had a little trouble nursing at first but were able to make it work with a nipple shield until 9 weeks. Then something clicked and he latched on like an old pro without the shield! We have a very beautiful and strong breastfeeding relationship.

Jonah bear about 1 month old

So that's it. The long and difficult journey to Jonah. I'd do it over again in a heart beat too. Josh and I adore him. We really love being parents. Just the other day, July 19th, we celebrated IVF day. One year ago we made Jonah and our other babies. How crazy is that!? So much has happened in a year. Our lives have been changed and we will never be the same. Always thankful for the love, support and prayers we received and thankful for MRC for helping us make our dream come true. Ultimately, thankful for God. He has given men and women such amazing wisdom to create science and technology. Thankful for his grace and protection throughout our IVF cycle, pregnancy and delivery.

He is faithful.

Thanks to my sister-in-law Sarah Hamlin for this family photo