A Wildfire in an Ice Storm

Settle in, folks. this is the longest post I've ever written. For the first part of our birth story click here.

The next day Josh and I decided to take a day of complete rest and try our hardest to get back to normal life. I stopped timing the braxton hicks contractions, we got panera for breakfast and skipped church to relax around the house. We watched a movie on Netflix and then took a nap. I really allowed myself to relax and let God's peace wash over me and trust in his timing.

After the nap we were both pretty hungry so we decided Jimmy John's was the perfect lunch. On the way to grab the late lunch we thought a matinee movie would be perfect for a relaxing Sunday afternoon. (Basically we were being complete bums :) )We bought tickets to see Zero Dark Thirty - which ended up being a great movie. To continue to get things back to normal we decided to stock our fridge with food for the week. (We had not been cooking meals at the house for days to avoid the mess and leftovers spoiling while we are in the hospital if we had the baby).

After grocery shopping we came home and played best of 5 games of Yatzee. We used to play that game ALL the time when we were dating in college and it was another perfect distraction from the pressure of going into labor. I felt totally relaxed and ready for whatever may happen.

With plans for lunch with a friend the next day and ingredients to make chili the next evening we headed to bed at 11:30.

Almost immediately once I laid down I started feeling cramps. I tried to sleep but the cramps kept coming in stronger and stronger waves. I changed positions. I used the rest room. I walked around the bedroom and no matter what these weren't subsiding. At 1:30 AM I decided to leave the bedroom so I wouldn't disturb Josh. I sat on the floor in the guest room and leaned against the side of the bed with my worship music playing on my phone. The contractions were about 4-6 minutes apart and came in waves exactly like I expected. I took deep breaths through each contraction and relaxed as well as I could, but the reality and excitement of this being real labor started to set in.

It was 2:30 at this point and I honestly was having a hard time calming down and getting overly excited about this being the real deal. We called our family to give them a status update so they could be on standby to head into town. Remembering what we were told in birth class I decided to shower and see if hot water could relax me. Not much luck with that, 3 (relatively) strong contractions 10 mins later I got out and woke up Josh telling him "This is it!" He got out of bed and decided to brew a pot of coffee and get the down stairs in order while I got ready and repacked our bags.

I called our doula, Ruth, and told her I wanted her to come over to give me some perspective. I had no idea how far along i might be because my contractions seemed so close together. Realizing this was the last time for getting ready on my own clock for a while i decided to take my time. I dried my hair. I put on make up. I put on my stretchy black skirt and grey tank top and then (ridiculously) curled my hair, topped with hair spray. (ha!)

I was curling my hair on the birth ball when Ruth arrived. I was have contractions through all of this and had to pause and breathe through each one, but was still acting relatively normal. After I was all "fancy for labor" (le sigh) we moved the party to the living room. Josh was great. He kept offering me water. Encouraging me to eat snacks and told me what a great job I was doing very calmly through these early labor contractions.

It was about 4:30 when i could no longer time my own contractions. they were getting stronger - like an intense menstrual cramp at first then a tightening that wouldn't stop all through my pelvis and lower back. The pain began feeling so strong that I couldn't stand straight and I was moaning pretty loudly through each one. I was leaning on the couch when Ruth suggested turning our arm chair around and leaning on that. it was super helpful because josh could be in front of me holding my hands and playing with my hair (already destroyed from my primping) and Ruth could put the rice sock on my back and press my hips together.

I was a bit obsessed with how far the contractions were apart and how long they were. I kept asking josh for an update on the average and would optimistically tell me they were getting closer or longer or distract me if for some reason things had slowed down.

by 5:30 i was exhausted and had to lay down. Willow snuggled up next to me with Josh at my head and Ruth by my feet i laid there in the quiet darkness of my living room surrounded by support FEELING like the contractions were getting to the point that I might be in transition. I rested as much as I could. Sipping water and juice. I had heard that chills and burping might be a sign of transition and when I stood up from about 30 mins of rest my contractions accelerated and I could not stop shivering.

Looking at the clock we decided we we wait a little longer at home to see if got any pushing urges. I thought I felt some around 645 and we figured it was a good time to head into Vanderbilt. Shift change was at 7 and traffic would be better before the 8 am rush.

I dreaded the car ride. The contractions made it hard to sit normally or remain still and I was shaking like crazy. I had one really strong surge right when we got in the car and I wouldn't let josh move the car till it was over. Gripping his hand was the only thing I could think to do.

We finally got the wheels turning north on 65 and Josh called family to let them know we thought I was in transition and we were headed to the hospital. I realized I was STARVING on my way to the hospital and Josh was super prepared with peanut butter crackers, fig newtons, bananas, and drinks of all varieties. I ate two bananas and chugged a vitamin water.

It seemed like for 7am the traffic was unusually heavy in the Hillsboro village area and felt like it took for ever to make it the 3 mile stretch from the interstate to the hospital. I remember begging josh to avoid pot holes and nearly crying a few times when i felt like drivers were going to slow. All the while moaning my way loudly through each contraction.

We shuffled our way from valet parking to Triage where we were told to check in, Josh laden with bags and a giant birth ball, me scaring the other patients with loud moans and dramatically long pauses every 20 steps. At triage they asked us if Labor and Delivery knew we were coming. Ruth had called on our way in and they said they were ready for us so triage sent us on the hike (Seriously, not close...) to L&D. When we got there the L&D nurse looked at us like we were crazy and sent us back to Triage. Right when she told us to walk back, I had a strong contraction and bent over on her counter moaning. She looked at me like she had never seen a woman in labor before and looked at josh "Does she need a wheelchair?!" "I'm fine, I'm fine...." I replied and started shuffling my way back to Triage.

At triage they apologized and then told me to stand and fill out paper work. I was shocked, cause I really thought they had assured me all my forms were in the system since I was with the midwives. I literally couldn't make it through my name and phone number without another contraction. I dropped the pen and told josh to fill it out and they realized I needed a chair so they sent me to a room for my initial check - 20 mins to monitor contractions and baby's heart rate and to check blood pressure and dilation.

Since my dilation was at a 4 on Friday I was feeling optimistic for a 7 or 8 when they checked me on Monday morning after 8 hrs of strong contractions. Sadly when the midwife checked she said, "your at a good solid 5 CM, with 60% effacement that's being a bit conservative." My heart dropped....5?! 60%?! How did my effacement go backwards?! what the?!? Seriously?!?!

I almost asked her to check again, but she said "This is the good! It means you are in active labor and you can choose to stay if you want or go home. If you stay we have room 9 available." Room nine is the golden room. The best room in our eyes. It was actually the room we had been praying for, so I didn't want to leave and loose that room. I asked Josh and Ruth what they thought feeling a bit worried I would make the wrong decision and they assured me that what ever I choose would be great. So we stayed.

The nurse somehow convinced me to get an IV "Just in case" and I immediately regretted the decision since it took her a good 60 seconds of painful digging in my arm to find a vein and what she assured me was a small IV, ended up taking up most of my forearm once they covered it in tape and then wrapped it in plastic so I could be in the tub. Not to mention it was in my right arm and made it impossible to function. About an hour later I asked them to remove it and said we could put one in later if it was necessary.

Once we got to room 9 Josh and I decided to take a little walk. I was shuffling pretty slowly at this point so a small walk around L&D was all I could handle. After the walk I labored in the tub. It was so relaxing and gave me a good distraction and something new to think about during each wave. I labored in there for about an hour and decided to get out and try some contractions while standing. Each one had me moaning and quasi hyperventilating at the peek. I was exhausted and was sure how much more I take.

Josh suggested I try to rest. So for about 45 mins, Ruth left the room, Josh sat by my side and I slept for 3 min intervals waking up with each painful wave to grip his hand. I could tell the sun was up through the shades in the room and I realized I had completely lost track of time. Claire, the midwife came in around noon to check my progress. Again, I was hoping for a 7 or 8, but it turned out I was only at a 6.

Ruth kept encouraging me to change positions, but all I wanted to do was sit in the tub. We did several contractions with me on all 4s in the bed. We did some on the birth ball. We moved to the restroom. where during one particularly strong contraction, my water broke. Not a huge gush, but enough for me to recognize it.

I got back in the tub around 230 and continued to try my best to breathe deeply through each contractions. In the tub I remember getting extremely hot. I was sweating like crazy so josh and ruth starting placing cool wash cloths on my head shoulders and arms. The deep breathing made me so thirsty, so Josh was always at my side with a large drink of ice water.

In the tub, my contractions seemed more bearable, but Claire suggested I get out because they were slowing down in frequency. So I got out and decided to try standing in the shower. Again, it was a nice change of pace. I would turn and have the warm water hit my belly between contractions and then spin and put my head on the wall and have water on my back during each contraction. All the while, Josh standing just outside the shower holding my hand.

I remember looking at him at one point saying "This is so hard. I don't know if I can do it." and he looked at me and said "You are such a strong woman. I know you can."

After the shower I put back on dry clothes and went and sat in a rocking chair. My body felt so tired at this point. The only effort I felt I could expel was enough to sway the chair. I remember opening my eyes and Ruth and Josh were there with loving supportive looks on their faces and I couldn't even muster a half smile. I just closed my eyes again.

I was really getting to the point where I didn't think I could do it. I told Josh - "I want some drugs. I want something. I can't do this." So he lovingly suggested we send out to try the nitrous oxide and sent for the nurse. Two youngish looking girls brought the NO and during very intense contractions they seemed to fumble their way through turning the machine on. Then they tried to explain to me that I needed to put the mask on, and breathe normally through the contraction. I was laying on my side in the bed when they told me this and if I had any sense of humor at the time I may have laughed at them. I knew the surges were so strong it took everything in me to deeply breathe, and most of the time I was breathing very quickly through each one because of the pain. I tried the NO once and realized ordering it was a bad idea. "I can't use this." i said "It makes me feel weird. It tastes funny and there is no way I can breathe normally."

The two girls left the room. I kept looking at josh. On the verge of, or actually crying. I cant remember which. These contractions hurt so badly. I had to be close to 10 CM. Claire checked me again (Which was getting increasingly difficult and painful) and I was at 8. Still two whole CM to go, but close.

At this point some random guy walks in the room. I immediately say "Who is that? What is he doing in here?" He was followed by the two girls who were struggling with the Nitrous. He sat down next to the bed and introduced himself as the anesthesiologist. He fit every sterotype I expected. Loud. Arrogant. Pushy. In the middle of transition he barges into my room and started saying things like "Now...your in a lot of pain and we can help you with that pain. Let's talk about an epidural." I'm not sure I said it out loud, but I was thinking "Of course i'm in pain! I'm in labor!" I know what I did say out loud was an emphatic "No."

After jumping that hurdle on top of being in transition I got through another 45 mins of contractions the best I could. Claire checked me again and found I was at 9+ cm with a small part of the cervix left to fade. She suggested trying to hold it back through a contraction while I pushed to see if we could get the baby's head through. No luck.

I decided I would try and pee one final time, so I moved slowly from the bed to the rest room. Josh by my side I started REALLY feeling that urge to push. it was this bizarre internal spasm that I couldn't control. My whole being wanting to expel the baby. Claire kept urging me to breathe deeply through each wave and that only made my urges to push stronger. when I got back from the restroom, she checked one final time and I was at 10 and ready to push (as if i didn't already know...)

I glanced at the clock on the wall at the foot of my bed. It said 5:20. Sitting up on the edge of the bed with my feet by my bottom and grabbing a hold of the bar for support, Josh jumped in and started his breathing coaching. "Deep breath in. Blow it out. Deep breath in. Push..." It was so nice to focus my energy on something other than the intensity of the pain. Every now and then Josh would watch while I pushed and then look at me and say "Things are happening! Your doing great!" After about an hour of pushing in this position Ruth again, suggested a position change, and I'm SO glad that she did. She said "Let's lay down and see if we can't get this baby through your pelvis."

I found it hard to get my 2nd and 3rd pushes in after one really strong push at the start of each contraction, but then Claire said those last two pushes were the ones where the most progress is typically made, so I found the energy to at least get 2 solid pushes in on good contractions. There were some contractions where I would start pushing and realize it wasn't going to be an effective push cause it was a smaller contraction so I would rest. Sip water. Stare at the clock ticking time forward. Praying that vacuum and forceps wouldn't have to be used.

At 7, there was a shift change. New nurse. New midwife - Lori, who I loved. This brought a fresh energy in the room. The new nurse suggested we set up a mirror. I was unsure about that, but Lori said  "It will help you know how to push and you will be able to see what is happening." So of course I said yes. I needed anything that could help me as we approached the 2 hour mark.

The mirror was completely strange, but I'm SO glad I used it. I could see the baby's head with my next push! It made me want to get that 2nd and 3rd push in even more! Like expected, at first his head would come a little bit further out each time and slide back in after the contraction. Eventually, it stopped sliding back in and there was what looked like a bone white head crowing. Now is when I kept expecting the "ring of fire" everyone talked about, but it never came. All I remember was it hurting and it made it incredibly hard to want to push, even though I knew there was no turning back now! I

Lori was amazing and had such a positive encouraging attitude. She let my body take the lead 99% of the time and would help coach me that extra 1% when she knew I needed it. He head was most of the way out, and I remember looking down saying "There's something wrong with the baby's face!" because what I saw was one weird eye, a smushed nose and no mouth. Thankfully Lori said "That's not the baby's face, it's the back of his head" (I found out later, Josh was thinking the same thing I was but was too afraid to say something).

40 mins of pushing later at 7:42, I prayed "Jesus, help me!" and I gave one really strong push and the baby's head came half way out. Breathe out. Breathe in. PUSH! and out came the rest of the baby's head! For some reason I was think I got a break after that and would be able to wait, but Lori looked at me and said, "I need you to keep pushing, push really hard" So I did! While I watched her wiggle little shoulders out of me and then a long BIG baby slid out followed by a lot of blood and fluids!

I just started laughing. Laughing as hard as I could. I absolutely couldn't contain my joy as they lifted the baby up to my chest. I looked down and saw 2 things....1. the baby decided to poop right as it was being born and 2. it was a boy! I declared through laughing "it's a boy, it's a boy" and looked at josh, who was also laughing hysterically! We were both so happy!
Moments after being born - laughter filling the room.
They placed little Felix on my chest and he gave a few good cries and I just kept laughing! Every little thing I discovered about him made me laugh! Brought me so much joy! He had a perfect little face. So cute! He had HUGE hands and HUGE feet. His cry was so sweet and sad. He had little peach fuzz on top of his head, but was mostly bald. I was so in love with him instantly!

After the cord stopped pulsing, Josh was offered the chance to cut it. Lori had a hard time clamping the cord cause it was so thick and Josh said the scissors had a hard time getting through it as well. I had a small 2nd degree tear, and Lori stitched me up while they did all they could with Felix on my chest. After she was done stitching me, they pulled him away to weigh him. He was 10 pounds even.  I was shocked. I couldn't believe I just delivered a 10 pound baby!

We were flooded with family. Our parents came back first. My mom cried and made me cry. I loved seeing all 4 grandparents doting on their new grandson. My Son! I had a son! It was slowly sinking in, but it was still hard to believe that this perfect little creature was mine! Part me. Part Josh. Living and breathing. No longer inside of me, but being held by our loved ones. Watching my husband hold him in his big hands melted my heart. Seeing my sisters ooo and ahh over him made me so proud!

Still today, the whole labor experience seems surreal. It doesn't feel like I was the person who went through all of that and came out on the other side with a new life to care for. I'm so thankful we were able to go into labor naturally and deliver without the use of drugs or an epidural. I'm so thankful for the support of loved ones who traveled to be there to welcome our little one. I'm so thankful for the team at the hospital who helped with a safe and natural delivery. I'm so thankful for my doula who was a constant calming voice throughout the process. And I'm incredibly thankful for my husband who was a steady stream of encouragement and strong place to lean into throughout the 20 hour process and beyond.

We are so in love and look forward to adventures to come with our little Felix Fire. Our wildfire who came and melted our hearts during an ice storm.


  1. Oh. OH. I cried reading this. Such a miracle. And you are a strong woman.

    I laughed at your getting ready: "fancy for labor" (le sigh)

    I gasped at the photo of you two filled with joy just after Felix Fire came into this world, for you could have been my mother, so much you look like her there. And in the next photo as well - the resemblance is striking. (Like some of your wedding photos!)

    What a journey you all are on. I will relish watching you walk it out.

  2. OH, I enjoyed reading the story. Congratulations, he's beautiful! And wow, 10 pounds!

  3. I could not be more in love with you! I am so thankful that Felix has such an amazing mom!

  4. So sweet! Thank you for posting this. What I beautiful moment to capture right after he came out. That picture is amazing and I love that you were both laughing with JOY!
    Love you both!

  5. What a awesome birth story! And how beautifully written. I was crying at the end :) So glad that you had the birth you envisioned. Enjoy every moment!!!