Who doesn't love a good birth story?
In honor of Elle being 6 months old today (yes, we are a little behind) here is the story of Elle's arrival into this world, told from the perspective of her Daddy!
That's right, while my man was comforting me through 14 hours of natural delivery, updating parents via text and video, and taking care of hospital logistics, he was also taking notes through my labor! I have a husband like no other.
I will also share why we chose to do a natural delivery, and my top tips for coping with the pain of natural child birth.
Elle's Birth Story
By Joe Niemiec
8:20 AM – Jas and I have a baby appointment where we schedule our induction and check Jas' current dilation. She is barely 1 cm dilated and we start to consider having to do an induction, which is something we were not wanting to have to do. All natural baby. We went to Starbucks after and I had a coffee and Jas had a strawberry orange smoothie. I go to work and Jas heads to the pool.
5:00 PM – I come home right after Jas finishes having her nails done. She decided to get them done today because she wanted to be sure they were done when baby came. Joe buys an RC glider and also signs up for the Quantico,VA tri and reserves a hotel for the weekend of August 22.
9:30 PM –After a walk to Panera to discuss our triathalon trip (we shared a double chocolate brownie using her free birthday pastry) Jas reports minor contractions. However, we weren’t certain it was the beginning of labor, more thinking it was just baby moving. Jasmin had minor contractions often at this point in her pregnancy. However, we begin tracking the contraction length and frequency.
11:30 PM - Joe tries to get some sleep, because we both know if these are real contractions someone is going to need to have some energy towards the end of labor. Jas also tries to sleep, but is unable.
1:45 AM - Jas wakes me up. Contractions are building and Jas is beginning to need support. Joe starts doing hip squeezes for every contraction. All this time we are in our bedroom and Jas is leaning on the dresser during her contractions. Contractions are around 6-7 min apart and toggling between mild and strong.
2:20 - AM We move our base of operations downstairs to be able to listen to music and use the couch and ball on chair comfort measures. Jas mainly does all her contractions on her knees while her forehead and arms are on the couch. She is still wanting a hip squeeze for every contraction. Contraction frequency has increased slightly and every so often a few stronger contractions come through.
2:45 AM - I eat a yogurt with granola and Jas eats half of a fig newton bar. She has been sipping water ever since the contractions began. I call the midwife who advises that due to being GS+ we should begin to think about heading to the hospital. She also says a shower might help Jas.
3:10 AM - Jas is in the shower and loves it. I am able to rest a bit from the hip squeezes as the shower is providing ample comfort to the lower back. Contractions still happening more often and holding at medium/strong intensity.
3:30 AM - Jas is out of the shower and talks to the midwife again who says this is the real deal and we should head to the hospital. After talking we decide not to leave immediately since the contractions are manageable and we want to spend as much time at home before leaving. Jas tries to nap, she is feeling very tired at this point simply due to the fact she has been awake for over 20 hours. I eat a breakfast and pack up the car.
4:00 AM - Jas can’t get any sleep. The contractions are too strong at this point. They are now at 4-5 min apart with medium/strong intensity.
4:40 AM - We head to the hospital just as Jas says the contractions are getting hard for her.
5:30 AM - Arrive at the hospital and Jas is hooked up to baby monitoring. She is checked and her dilation is at 3cm. Jas is a little frustrated as she has been laboring for 7 hours already.
6:20 AM - After almost an hour of monitoring they are not satisfied with the baby’s “accelerations” in heart rate and declare Jas is most likely dehydrated. She is hooked up to IV and we immediately begin to see accelerations in baby’s heart rate. Contractions are very "ouchy" now. I am doing hip squeezes for every contraction, which is providing enough relief to get through. They are more painful because she is forced to lay on her back while they perform baby monitoring. After the increase in “accelerations” and IV delivery Jas is able to stop baby monitoring and is able to stand and we ask if we can head to the hot tub.
7:00 AM - Jas is in the tub and it is really helping provide relief as the contractions get stronger. She eats a half fig newton and is sipping juice after every contraction. Joe and midwife tag team, one person pouring hot water on her back the other messaging her lower back during the contractions while she kneels in the tub.
7:50 AM - Jas reports urges to push during some of her contractions. Joe goes and gets the midwife.
8:00 AM - Midwife checks Jas and she is at 7cm dilation!
8:40 AM - Painful but efficient contractions. Although Jas is hurting we are in good spirits due to the progress that was made. She is working hard, but says things like “I am really doing this!”. Midwife checks again and we are at 8cm and 90% dilation and zero station.
9:00 AM - Several very painful contractions but Jas asks to get checked again and she is now at 9cm! She is still in the tub and being very efficient even though she is super tired being awake 26 hours. We leave the tub and head back to the delivery room since we are getting close to 10cm. The water has not broken yet.
9:20 AM - Back in the labor and delivery room Jas begins to feel sick. She throws up 4 to 5 times while standing in the bathroom of the delivery room. She is hooked back up to IV to restore fluid loss. Things seem to have hit a wall now that Jas is out of the tub.
9:30 AM - Still at 9cm contractions. Very painful and now we are disappointed since we haven’t had any progress. Jas begins to doubt herself and my arms are falling off with all the hip squeezes required.
Thankfully a nurse takes over for a few contractions. We are both feeling very tired. We start talking about whether to break the water or not. We decide against it for now.
10:20 AM - After almost an hour of painful contractions we are still at 9cm and unable to push. Jas has had a few small mental breakdowns, but is still accepting verbal encouragement. Joe is tired and very emotional seeing Jas like this. We decide to break the water to get things moving again.
11:00 AM - After very little progress Jas transitions into pushing.
11:20 AM - Major pushing contractions. We begin to gain momentum as the baby begins to drop. The baby finally clears the cervix after several VERY painful pushing contractions and the midwife moving Jasmin's cervix.
11:41 AM - Ellen Louise Niemiec is born at 8lbs. 11.oz, 21 in. long. The last 20 minutes were super intense. No other way to put it. Loud yelling, lots of pain, and lots of pushing. Jas had her game face on and never showed doubt during this section of natural delivery.
Elle is immediately whisked away as there was meconium before the delivery. In order to eliminate the risk of it getting in her lungs she had to be treated immediately, which meant no delayed cutting of the cord. After 5-7min she was cleaned up and able to spend tummy time with mommy. Jas only had one minor tear needing stitching. What an event. All in all a 14 hour natural delivery, a very positive experience and a healthy baby. Also hip squeezes are essential in natural delivery. Jas is a natural mother.
I could not have gone though natural delivery without my amazing, strong husband (man squeezed my hips for over 10 hours!!), the encouraging nursing staff and St. Mary's Hospital, My midwife Brooke Bucci, and that blessing of a hot tub. It was the hardest, most beautifully satisfying day of my life.
You may be wondering why I choose natural delivery. Before I explain why I did, I want to mention that labor, in all forms, is labor. My intentions are not to tell you that epidurals are terrible, and getting an epidural makes you less of a Mom. Labor is hard with an epidural. Parenting is hard. Life is hard. Being a Mom is hard, before and after the baby arrives. And if you are a mom who is reading this, you are awesome. You sacrificed your body, sleep, and sanity to bring beautiful life into this world. You are amazing.
At first I would have told you that natural delivery was, for medical reasons, more safe for the baby. Though the research to support seems true, I know many women who have used an epidural, saddle, or analgesics and their baby was and is happy and healthy.
There was something deep inside me that wanted to go through with natural delivery. I truly believe, in my scenario, that God was asking me to go though this naturally as an act of obedience to him.
My entire life, I have been a motivated, independent, self sufficient person. Often times, that results in a besetting sin of pride, and a lack of need for God.
I also admit that though I am a motivated person, I often struggle with pushing myself to my fullest potential. Through my 8+ year of running, 45 of the 50 races I ran I gave up. I stopped trying.
I didn't want to truly push and give all I had, and would coast at a pace that was comfortable, bearable, but good enough to stay in "the top group".
Post collegiate running, that has been very unsettling to me.
After lots of prayer, I realized God wanted me to do this for Him. He wanted me to lay aside my pride and ability to control my surroundings, and trust Him.
This was by far the most challenging, physically painful life experience I have faced, but the most rewarding, aside from salvation and the sanctification process of marriage.
It was then that God reminded me that some of our greatest gifts will come through our toughest trials. We must rely on Him and do things outside of our comfort zone to truly let Him use us to our full potential, whether it be a race, labor, talking to our unfriendly neighbors, praying with a stranger, disciplining our children, volunteering at a food pantry, or inviting someone over for dinner who is different than you.
If you are wanting to go though with natural labor, here is my best advice:
Pray a lot, be prepared, and take it one moment at a time.
You must educate yourself on pain relief techniques and what to expect when it comes to labor. Your birth plan will not follow sync, and you must know what can happen in order to make educated decisions. There are times it is best for you to get an epidural, so you can relax and the baby can decend. I highly recommend you take natural child birth classes as as couple and practice pain relief techniques often. You won't know which ones will be most effective until you are in labor, and having a couple go-to's ready will help you deal with the pain.