18 days after his birth, I’m finally getting around to writing Grayson’s birth story!!
On Wednesday, May 23rd, Steve asked if I could come to the office with him to take care of some returns and warranty replacements (in case you don’t know, we own our own business and I had only been coming into the office about once a week for the past month). I was still feeling pretty good even though I was only 3 days away from my due date, so I didn’t mind going in. However, about half way through the day I started to get really moody and I just did NOT want to be there anymore. I hadn’t had too many mood swings during my pregnancy, so I joked to Steve that maybe my body was producing extra hormones to help me go into labor!
We ended up leaving the office a few hours early, and Steve said that he wanted to mow the yard when we got home. Whenever he mows, I pick up the dog poop in the backyard while he mows the front. And each time I’ve done this my belly has gotten tight, so I figured, what the heck…..maybe it’ll jump start some contractions! Right before I started my wonderful task of picking up dog poop (with a pooper scooper), my mom called and asked how I was doing. She had booked her flight out here for May 31st assuming that I would be a bit late since she was 2 weeks late with me. I told her that I was 4cm dilated and 60-70% effaced at my last doctor’s appointment 2 days before and that the doctor had stripped my membranes to try and help put me into labor, but that I still wasn’t really feeling any different, but I’d let her know if she needed to change her flight.
Well, by 6pm I started to feel what I thought were just more Braxton Hicks contractions (I’d been having several per day for the past month or two, but none that were timeable). I didn’t really think anything of it until I started having some that gave me some slight lower back pain, which hadn’t happened before. I started timing my contractions around 6:30pm and they were about 30-40 seconds long, and varying from 5-10 minutes apart. From reading some information on contractions, I figured I didn’t need to call my doctor until they were at the 5-1-1 stage (5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, consistently for 1 hour), so I just kept timing them and only had a couple that were a minute or more long. By 11pm they were coming about every 2-3 minutes and lasting about 40 seconds so I decided to call my doctor. Now during this time, my contractions weren’t bad at all. They basically felt like Braxton Hicks but just with an added achey back, but completely tolerable and I could talk through them. I even made dinner and cleaned up the kitchen while timing my contractions, which is why I waited a good 5 hours to call my doctor.
When I called my doctor’s office, the on call nurse answered and I said, “Hi, my name’s Joanna McVey, and I think I might be going into labor!” I must have said it very enthusiastically because she said, “You sound very excited!” Haha! She told me that my doctor would give me a call back in the next 20 min or so (luckily my doctor was the one on call that night, YAY!). When my doctor called (she sounded very sleepy), I told her about my contractions and she said that I could go ahead and come in to the hospital. I told Steve and he went into overdrive!! He started asking me what all we needed to pack, and I told him what I had already packed and what we still needed. I got out our video camera and started filming him getting things ready, and at 11:37pm we headed to the hospital…..all the while Steve is speeding down the freeway with his hazard lights on. I told him that he doesn’t need to go that fast because my contractions didn’t even hurt that bad, and he said, “Baby, stop trying to steal my thunder! This is the only time I can legitimately speed without being afraid of getting a ticket!” Luckily there weren’t very many cars out that late, so I let him have his moment. Oh, and I ended up calling my mom on the way to the hospital (9:50pm her time) and she was able to change her flight to arrive at 1:05pm the next day.
When we arrived at the hospital, we couldn’t figure out where we were supposed to park, so for about 10 minutes we drove around and around trying to find the parking garage that connected to the maternity ward. It ended up being the one I initially said to pull into. We got all checked in and taken to a room where I got checked and put on a monitor. I was about 5cm dilated at this point and my contractions still weren’t bad at all. After about an hour we were moved to the labor/delivery/recovery room and I was told I could get my epidural right away if I wanted it. Since I still wasn’t really feeling much pain I declined because I actually wanted to feel what labor felt like for a little while….and so I could tell Grayson, when he got older and started acting up, all that I had gone through to bring him into the world. LOL! The nurse told us to try and sleep, but that was pretty much impossible. We were both too excited, and I couldn’t really sleep with what contractions I could feel anyway.
At 6:15am Thursday, May 24th, I got my epidural. I’m pretty sure I could have gone another several hours without one, but I knew I was going to end up getting one at some point, and I thought I might as well try to get some rest in the mean time. An anesthesiologist student gave my my epidural (with the doctor right next to her) and she nailed it on the first try, thankfully! I honestly think getting my IV hurt worse. Let me tell you, epidurals are a gift from God! I kept saying how warm my legs felt and asking Steve to touch them so he could feel how warm they were. We finally got a couple hours of sleep, and around 8am my doctor came in and broke my water and started me on pitocin (since I had only progressed to 6cm in that time). I took another nap and at 10:30am I was at 8cm. By 10:55am I was 9cm, so I called my best friend, Elizabeth, who was also going to be in the room with us when I delivered, and she headed on over. Her husband was picking my mom up from the airport, and we were hoping that they would make it in time.
Grayson’s head was a little cocked to the side so they had me lay on my left side with my right leg up in a stirrup to try to get him to move it into position. Let me tell you, trying to move the lower half of your body when you’ve had an epidural is no easy task. My legs felt SO heavy and even though I was trying super hard, using the lower half of my body to move myself was pretty much impossible. I had to use the hand rails on the bed to try to pull myself up with my arms. No easy task! They also put me on some oxygen to keep his heart rate up. At 11:45 I was fully dilated but his head was still cocked to the side. So I did some practice pushes with the nurse to try to get him to move down.
The next couple hours are kind of a blur, and they seemed to go by so fast. All I know is that I started pushing for real at 12:50. The nurse kept saying, “Push toward the ceiling.” And I’m like, “I don’t know what that means!!” It was so hard to feel what I was doing because of the epidural, but I tried to mimic the pushes I was doing when the nurse and doctor would say, “Great! Just like that!” I pushed for exactly one hour, and Grayson was born at exactly 1:50pm on Thursday, May 24th. Steve was such a trouper! All through my pregnancy he had said that he didn’t want to see anything that was going on and just wanted to stay by my head, and that he didn’t want to cut the cord or anything. But when the moment came, and the nurse told him to “Grab her leg!” he was all in it 100%! He saw everything. Haha! And he even cut the cord! (He told me some of the gory details later on, and I’m glad I opted not to look into a mirror as he was born). Since I couldn’t feel much I didn’t really know what was happening with each push, but I do remember pushing super hard and hearing that his head was out. And then with the next push or two the doctor (or nurse) said, “Look Mom! Open your eyes!!” and I opened my eyes just in time to see Grayson slide out into the doctor’s arms. I instantly started crying, and I was immediately in love with my new son. They put him on my chest and dried him off a little and I got to kiss his head a few times. Then they took him over to the warming table to check his vitals, do his measurements, and give him his APGAR score. He scored a 10 out of 10!!
My mom ended up getting to the maternity ward right when I pushed Grayson out, and since I had a 2nd degree tear, she had to wait until I was stitched up before she could come in. But she did get to meet her grandson within minutes of his birth, and that was really special for both of us. Grayson was given his first bath, and then we really got to see his full head of hair! He was (and is) perfect in every way!
I was also able to try breast feeding, and Grayson latched like a champ right away!!
Our first family photo!
Once the epidural started to wear off, I really was in probably the most pain I’ve ever been in. I was clutching the bed rails and just couldn’t even talk. All the pain that I wasn’t feeling during birth started to rear it’s ugly head, and luckily they were able to give me some pain medication to take the edge off. The nurse had me get up about an hour after giving birth to try to pee, and let me tell you….that was an experience! At first, all I was passing was blood. It took me about 15 minutes (or more…I’m not sure how long I was in there) to even get a little out. Then I started feeling really light headed and was about to pass out, so they had to get a wheelchair to bring me back to bed. I ate a little lunch, had some water and started to feel a bit better, so they were finally able to take us to our postpartum room.
Our first night with him was pretty tiring. He was up every hour or so, and we finally decided at 5am to send him to the nursery so we could get some sleep. The next day, he slept much of the time, and I was able to do a couple laps around the maternity ward, while pushing him in his plastic crib.
That night we sent him to the nursery at midnight, and I was finally able to get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep before they brought him back for a feeding. We were discharged on Saturday, May 26th (my due date), and thus started this brand new and exciting chapter in our lives. Parenthood.
Here are some pictures from Grayson’s newborn photo shoot (at 6 days old) taken by the talented Jenn Harvey!