Rowan Patrick Collins was born on 10.13.16 at 3:44 p.m. weighing 8lbs 2oz and 20.5 inches long. He was born with a head full of strawberry blonde hair and full chubby cheeks. We didn't know it was possible to love a little human so much just by hearing his little (but loud) cry and seeing his face for the first time…Dusty and I are now firm believers in "love at first sight".
As we should have expected, Rowan was 8 days overdue… and I've now come to the conclusion that due dates suck. For real….they suck. It should be called a "due date week" or…in our case…two weeks. Dusty teased that we had created the perfect storm of a child, a blend of both of us…Rowan was being tardy or late like I usually am…and content and comfortable like Dusty usually is…booking a longer stay in hotel-uterus than we were hoping for.
At 39 weeks I was already 3 cm dilated and 60% effaced. I had been feeling Braxton Hicks contractions since the start of the third trimester and was continuing to have them regularly each day, but nothing overly exciting.
Around my due date, which was October 5, my blood pressure started to increase a little bit and I had trace amounts of protein in my urine. Not to mention, I had went from moderately swollen to very swollen. Everything was puffy, from my toes to my nose! My Dr reminded me that I'd be induced should the baby not make his appearance by 41 weeks.
At my 40 week appointment I had my membranes swept (and yes it's as terrible as it sounds) I'll save you the nitty gritty details. The technique is supposed to disrupt the tissue of the cervix and hopefully "start labor". I went home that day after the membrane sweep and definitely felt crampy and uncomfortable…I told Dusty we should go for a walk to keep things moving along…so we did…I waddled down the road for a 30-minute walk, came home and prepared mentally for things to continue…but nighttime came and before I knew it I was waking up the next morning with nothing exciting to report.
In the morning, on Wednesday, October 12, I woke up face-to-face with the start of week 41 and still…nothing. I had heard that it is very common for first-time moms to go past their due date…but that didn't provide the solace I needed. I was more than ready for our little guy to make his appearance and quite frankly I was very much OVER being pregnant. I was ready to be able to see my ankles again, tie my own tennis shoes, and walk without waddling. I was scheduled to be induced at the hospital the next morning at 41+1 weeks. I spent the morning re-packing our hospital bags, cleaning, and preparing mentally for what the next day or two would bring. I took a long hot shower, taking my time getting ready…this would be our last day at home – just Dusty, the dogs, and I… we wanted to enjoy it before we became a family of 5 (dogs included). Around 2:00 p.m. I got a phone call from the Dr's office saying they were surprised I still hadn't gone into labor (me too…me too) and they wanted me to go in that night at 7:00 p.m. to start cervadil (a gel that they insert to help dilate the cervix). While I wasn't expecting this change in agenda, I was ready. We were ready. I gladly agreed to go in at 7:00 p.m. that night – we called my mom who packed her bags to head to our house to be the with the dogs while we were in the hospital. Dusty and I attempted to eat dinner (I was way too anxious to eat a bite)…I figured I'd dig into our bag of snacks once we got to the hospital and settled in our room.
We arrived at the hospital around 6:50 p.m. I felt nauseated…likely with nerves and excitement that we were finally going to meet our baby. I made Dusty leave a couple of our bags in the car and told him he could run out and grab them later… I didn't want to walk into Labor and Delivery looking like we were going to be staying for a month…I knew I had over packed, but since this was our first time going through this process I wanted to make sure we didn't regret not bringing something. (Type A? – I think so…) A lovely nurse greeted us at the front entrance and ushered us to our room. We were settling in nicely – preparing for the Dr to come in and insert the cervadil. I was starting to feel more relaxed and comfortable with my surroundings…and my appetite was slowly coming back. The Dr checked me before inserting the cervadil, I was still roughly 3 cm…making the cervadil a welcomed option to get things moving. Once the cervadil was inserted we were told to try and get some sleep and 12 hours later the cervadil would be removed and at 7:00 a.m. we'd get to have a big breakfast, I'd get to take a nice hot shower, and we'd start pitocin if needed to continue the induction process. Sounded like a nice game plan that my type-A personality could 100% get behind. I liked predictability!
By now the time was 9:00 p.m. and Dusty was given a cot to sleep on so we rolled it in next to my hospital bed, turned the TV on and got comfortable watching an NHL hockey game. We were ready to have a cozy and relaxing night in our little room. Unfortunately, I found out a little too late that since the cervadil was inserted I wasn't allowed to eat anything…hmmmm…yea… wasn't happening…I may or may not have had a handful of crackers, just enough to hold myself over until the "big breakfast" we'd be having at 7:00 a.m. the next morning. Shhhh don't tell.
At about 9:30 p.m. I started to feel a little uncomfortable…nothing too crazy but just enough cramping to be noticeable. I started drifting in and out of sleep while watching TV…when I was suddenly awoken at about 10:00 p.m. with a cramp that made me sit upright in bed…and then another….and a few minutes later another…I had Dusty warm up a rice bag in the microwave so that I could hold it on my abdomen in hopes to relieve some of the pain from the cramping. The heat from the rice pack offered some temporary relief as the "contractions" started to become stronger and more regular.
The time was now 10:30 p.m. and I had transitioned from relaxing in a reclined position in the hospital bed to sitting on the edge of it breathing through the contractions. By 11:00 p.m. I was standing and swaying my hips…the deep breathing had changed to dull moans (wish there was a better word to describe it…but dying cow sounds about right)…and at that point we decided to call in our Doula from Doula's of Marquette to help and support us.
My dreams of a big breakfast at 7:00 a.m. and a "good nights sleep" went out the window. How was I going to get through labor and birth on no food… I was starving and already exhausted.
Once our Doula got there my contractions were a wee bit painful…she and Dusty helped me breathe through the contractions, applied counter pressure on different areas of my body, and put a cool rag on my forehead. **Quick shout out to Doulas of Marquette for their amazing services during our pregnancy and birth – your services were invaluable** I labored hard until 3:00 a.m. and asked that the Dr check me…I prayed I was far enough along to get an epidural…but nope…I was still only dilated to a 3-3.5, talk about feelings of discouragement. The epidural I so longed for was still out of range. I wasn't sure how much longer I could do it…my contractions were now feeling like they were on top of one another…I barely had a break in between them to breathe. I continued laboring until 6:30 a.m. and had a handful of contractions that I knew had to be strong enough to have helped me make some sort of progress. They were strong enough that they almost took me to my knees – thankfully Dusty was hanging on to me…but I am pretty sure I left fingernail marks in his arms. I had now been laboring for 8.5 hours without any sort of relief. Exhaustion was an understatement. I asked to be checked again and finally was told that I was dilated to a 4.5 and could receive the epidural. Hallelujiah!!! Thank you baby Jesus!! By 7:30 a.m. the epidural was given and I felt like a whole new woman.
The crazy thing about contractions is that if you get a break in between them you can almost feel normal for a moment. Which gave me just enough time to threaten Dusty that this would be our first and last baby – or to exclaim that my wet bangs hanging in my face made me look like the exorcist. I was happy to know I still had some sense of humor amidst the excruciating pain that was labor.
The epidural was a God-send…I was exhausted and so so so very tired. Once my body started to relax I instantly started shaking…my legs were shaking so hard from adrenaline that Dusty and our Doula had to hold them down until I was settled and then we all took a quick cat nap.
By 9:00 a.m. I was dilated to 8 cm and everything was looking great. I was excited to know that we were so close to meeting our little baby boy! Dusty and I messaged our moms to let them know there was a good chance he would be born around noon…the last two centimeters always go by the quickest (or so we had heard). I was told to let the medical team know if I felt pressure in my rectum and that they'd check to see if the baby was engaged and if I was ready to push. Around 11:00 a.m. I definitely started feeling more pressure in that vicinity…and when they checked me I was still 8 cm dilated and no baby in the birth canal. I was checked again at noon…and was still only 8 cm. They decided to start me on pitocin to help me progress. I was on pitocin from noon until 2 p.m. and with the help of our Doula and a quick change in position that helped open my hips we were able to get to 9 cm. The contractions that I was not feeling before getting the pitocin (thanks to the epidural) were now coming back with vengeance. I was back to breathing through contractions even with the epidural. I was also starting to feel dizzy and faint. I describe it now as a very "out of body" experience. I was going on 32 hours with no sleep and almost 24 with no food. My body was feeling stretched to the max and while I wanted to continue to fight for that last and final centimeter there was still the fact that the baby had to make it down into my birth canal and then I had to push….which could take hours.
Dusty and I shared a few emotional glances…and with tears streaming down my face…he asked if I had one more hour in me and if I felt I could labor just a little bit longer to see what happens. I told him that something didn't feel right and that I felt like I was going to pass out… I was exhausted. As soon as I mentioned I felt like I was going to pass out Dusty waved his hand and signaled to the nurse to get the Dr and to let her know we were changing course. I was bummed that I had gotten so far and had to call off the natural labor process…but something was just telling me it was time. I was ready for the c-section. I was ready to do whatever I needed to get our baby into the world safely.
The medical team wheeled me into the operating room down the hall and within 30 or so minutes they had me opened up on the operating table. The Dr mentioned during the operation that Rowan was definitely stuck firmly like a "cork" in my birth canal, on an angle and face up (hence why I was feeling the rectal pressure but nothing was happening). His head was in the 75-90% percentile and my birth canal was on the more narrow side….which concocted the perfect storm – and one really really tough and unlikely vaginal delivery. Upon understanding the situation I got emotional and extremely grateful for modern medicine and the medical teams' knowledge on how to safely and successfully create a safe birth experience for both Rowan and I.
The OB started attempting to "extract" Rowan (for lack of better term) from my birth canal…the force of her attempts to uncork him sent my lower body rocking back and forth on the delivery table. I heard her say… "he's stuck in there pretty good…" Dusty and I shared a quick nervous glance and after a few moments and some more rocking we heard a quick "pop" noise followed by a crying baby. At that moment Dusty and I both became 100% aware that it was OUR baby we were listening to cry…and then we too started to cry. That moment is one we will never forget. It was the moment we both realized that our lives had changed forever and our hearts made an enormous amount of room for this little human. Hearing just his cry alone was enough to let us know that he was ours and belonged to us…that I was his mom and Dusty his dad, we were parents…and he was our son. The Dr exclaimed that Rowan had "a head full of hair" – which we weren't expecting! After they allowed Rowan and I to do some skin to skin (or more cheek to cheek) they then wheeled him down to our room so that Dusty and he could have some more cozy skin to skin time on Dusty's chest. A very special moment for both of them.
Of course, most women (including me) hope for a smooth, easy, vaginal delivery. It was something I most definitely can look back on and say that I strived hard for. I went into the birth without any expectations. I didn't have a "birth plan"…I trusted my body and modern medicine to lead the way – whatever the outcome. We had agreed to take it step by step and tackle each obstacle as it came. In the end, I am so grateful that my body was able to signal to me that something wasn't quite right. I am also relieved that we live in 2016 and not in 1616 or earlier, during a time when Rowan and I likely may not have survived such an experience. Rowan's birth was empowering and my c-section was beautiful.
Stay tuned for Rowan's one month update and other fun photos of our life at home with our baby boy.
Get 20% off a family or birth/in-hospital newborn session with Riutta Images! Contact Bryanna at [email protected] and mention this blog post to receive your discount.