*This entry is exceptionally long! It is more for my recollection than anything, but feel free to read about our birthing experience. Don’t worry, no graphic details are shared! J *
Much has happened in the last few weeks, the biggest event being that we welcomed our son, Judah Andrew Easling, on July 7th! Here are Andrew and I with Judah in our first family picture:
I normally pen my thoughts in a journal, but there’s so much that’s flooded my heart and mind recently, I’m afraid I’m too impatient for pen and paper expression. So here’s the story of how Judah came into our world.
Andrew and I agreed to induce labor on Friday July 6th because I was going on a week and a half late with no signs of labor in view. I had been dilated at 1cm for over 5 weeks with no progress and we agreed to protect our baby’s health by not going too far past due. The night before our appointment I hardly slept. Knowing I was finally going to meet our son or daughter kept me tossing and turning until it was time to get up!
Andrew and I walked into OSF St. Joseph Hospital in Bloomington at 6:45am and were greeted by my parents and sister, who prayed with us, cheered us on and videotaped the long journey to Judah’s delivery. The nurses started me on Pitocin at 8:30am. We walked laps upon laps upon laps around the birthing center, waiting for contractions to intensify and for dilation to occur, but the only thing that seemed to be intensifying was my anticipation! It wasn’t until 4:30pm that I had dilated to a mere 3cm and Dr. Dalton, my fantastic OB, came and broke my water. After that, things started to pick up. My contractions became much stronger and closer together, as I had expected but couldn’t prepare for completely. Andrew and I got in the birthing tub and I labored through the next couple of hours with increasing pain.
The warm bath helped take the edge off the pain, but as time dragged on I started to feel like my body was taking over me. It was a strange feeling; I tried to remember the breathing techniques I’d learned but it became a real challenge to keep my body relaxed. Around 10:30pm or so I gave in and asked for an epidural. They wheeled me into a new delivery room and we waited for the anesthesiologist to arrive, who had to be called in. I remember feeling panicky and almost in tears with each intense contraction hitting me like a giant wave, robbing me of words and leaving me struggling to keep my breath. I kept praying that the anesthesiologist would arrive quickly because I didn’t think I could make it through the next contraction.
Finally the anesthesiologist did come, and O Happy Day!! He couldn’t get those drugs in me fast enough! It took a while to kick in, probably because of my Scoliosis he said, but when it did I finally felt my body begin to relax and I could breathe again. The doctor, who told us he was from Burma, noticed an exhausted smile at the corners of my mouth and told Andrew, “I think she likes my drugs.” I remember sleepily replying, “I love your drugs! You’re my hero!” Soon after that I passed into a blissful slumber. Andrew and I were able to get a good long nap, which was much needed for what we had yet to endure.
It felt like heaven to be able to sleep and not feel the contractions. Every now and then I’d wake to the nurse coming in to check on me. I remember in the wee hours of the morning she checked and said I was at 8cm, and then around 6am on Saturday I had finally reached 10cm and was told it was time to push! They called Dr. Dalton in but she was tied up with another patient, so the nurse began the pushing stage with me. Andrew was by my side the whole time, encouraging me and helping me get into position for each push. With the epidural I couldn’t move my legs or feel myself pushing, but it wasn’t long before it started to wear off just enough that I could feel the contractions coming again. Even though I dreaded feeling the pain again, it was good to know when I needed to push. We had a birthing mirror in the room, so I was able to see our baby’s head start to come down, which was an amazing experience, but also another test of patience because to me, he wasn’t coming out fast enough! It seemed like he’d never make it out!
Dr. Dalton eventually came in and I was so happy to see her! I kept pushing and pushing and pushing, but our baby’s head kept sliding back up the canal. I truly began to feel like I wouldn’t be able to get our baby out on my own, and was approaching the point of sheer exhaustion. It was a strange, feeling like I couldn’t do it and wanting to give up, but knowing that I was the only person on the planet that could push this baby out of my body. It was up to me; I had to keep pushing!
Well, 3 hours later, at 9:02am, our baby finally came out! Andrew helped pull him out, and Dr. Dalton invited me to hook my hands under our baby’s armpits and pull our baby out. I reached out with weary arms and pulled our baby up. As we “helped” deliver our baby, someone said, “We have a boy!” Judah Andrew Easling had finally made his debut!
Right after that was an exhausting yet exhilarating blur of events. Andrew held our son to his bare chest, and I remember shedding tears of exhaustion and relief and joy all mixed together as I reached out and touched Judah’s feet while he was in Andrew’s arms. Then they laid Judah on my stomach, and I got to look at his perfect face. I couldn’t believe this little human had just come out of me! He had arms and legs and a handsome face, and was grunting, making noise! He had a voice! It truly was amazing seeing God’s miracle right there before me. All those months of waiting and daydreaming and finally, here was our son!
The nurses weighed and measured Judah, and all of us including Dr. Dalton were shocked to hear that he was 9 pounds 14 ounces and 21 inches long! It took him a while to get a good cry out, and he had very little Vernix on his body, but he was a healthy baby, praise God!
Andrew and I, upon reflection of the last 24 hours we’d spent waiting and laboring up to Judah’s birth, agreed that it was a blessing for me to have gotten the epidural when I did. Had I not had that rest and freedom from the pain, I would have spent several more hours in intense contractions, which would have likely sapped me of the strength I needed for the long pushing stage. I really think I might have needed a C-Section had I not gotten the epidural, because even which the break from the contractions and the long nap, I still had barely enough strength to push for three long hours.
Now that I’m on the other side of the pregnancy, having gone through an induced labor and getting an epidural (both of which were not a part of our plans!) I can more clearly see the need to be flexible with one’s labor and delivery plan. At first I felt like a cheater or a quitter for giving in and getting the epidural. I felt like a weak Easling (other female Easlings have done home births with no medical intervention—completely natural!). But with Andrew’s encouragement and my own change of perception, I realized that it wasn’t wrong or bad to change our plan, and to get medical assistance with the birth of our son was a wise and helpful choice we made, one that I still feel was worth it.
On top of it all, I had the best hospital experience of my life at OSF! Our room was big and comfortable, and didn’t have that depressing feel of a bleached, bright hospital room. It felt like a master suite. Each nurse that tended to us displayed exceptional friendliness, courtesy, and respect for our needs and desires. This hospital is not at all like the horror stories you hear. They were so willing to honor our desires for labor and delivery, made sure Andrew and I were comfortable, and even tended to some needs of my family who camped out in the hospital in patient support of Andrew and I. They informed us on procedures and tests, and truly made me feel at home. It’s so true that going through the experience of delivering a child essentially robs you of all dignity, and those who know me know I have an aversion to hospitals due to the nature of the often awkward but necessary invasion of privacy, but I had no problem accepting the help of the nurses. When it came time to go home, I didn’t want to leave the safety, security, and comfort of the hospital and staff!
The first night home was the worst. Andrew had to go to work early the next morning, so I got up and took Judah out to the living room every time he wanted to feed. I had no idea what to do! I was up and down, up and down, checking on him in his bassinet, feeling totally clueless and helpless and exhausted again by the next morning. I wanted nothing more than to go back to the hospital, crawl back into bed, and be surrounded by the expertise and comfort of the nurses and staff. I felt overwhelmed! (Shocking, I know). The next night was slightly better, but still a whirlwind. The third night was a little easier than the last, but I still felt alone. I definitely had the Baby Blues. I was so emotional. One moment I’d feel fine, the next I’d feel like I was in a trap of feeding and burping and changing diapers. I wanted to just get the heck out of Flanagan and move to Bloomington, to be close to my friends and other women; to escape this feeling of isolation. My whole world was upside down. I went through a few crying spells, and though I had nothing but love for Judah in my heart, I couldn’t shake the numbing feeling that weighed me down. Thankfully, through answered prayer, the feelings wore off in a few days. I’m still worn, but mostly due to lack of sleep J.
And now, Andrew and I are joyfully and with many yawns trekking through this first long season of parenthood, all the while thanking and praising our glorious God who created and purposed our son to be born into our care, to be raised up as another warrior for God’s Kingdom!