Kjersti’s birth story
On Tuesday, September 3, I took a walk with Leo and Alia before bed around 8. It was a little late for Leo, who I like to put to bed around 7-7:30 since he stopped napping earlier this year, but the weather was so nice and cool from Hurricane Dorian being off the coast that I didn’t want to miss it. My mom and dad went with us too. It was super windy, and gray storm clouds were rolling in as we walked around the neighborhood.
Just as we got home the rain started, which lasted all night. I was walking through the kitchen with my mom, who was heading out the patio door to go home, when I felt a big pop / gush. I told her “I think my water just broke.” I wasn’t fully aware all that implied at that time, but I called my midwife who said to let her know if I started having contractions or any other changes, and if not she’d be over in the morning to discuss what we could do to naturally get labor started.
I slept pretty well that night, had maybe one contraction per hour, but nothing consistent.
The next morning I had a chiropractor appointment scheduled, but they (and every office around here) were closed for the hurricane. That was a bummer, because getting adjusted was a big help the last two times I was in labor.
My midwife Charlie came to our house that morning. She gave us the low down on what it means if your water breaks, that basically your risk of infection goes up after 12 hours, but goes considerably up after 24 hours, so we needed to have this baby by around 8:30 that evening, or transfer to a hospital for pitocin.
I hate time limits, they stress me out, so I wasn’t thrilled to hear all this. She said taking castor oil helps some people progress into active labor, especially if their water is already broken and it’s not a first pregnancy, so we decided to try that.
I think I took 2 ounces an hour for 3 hours, and was walking around the neighborhood trying to get contractions to pick up as well. Landon and I walked about a mile an hour, and the kids went with us one time as well. Thankfully the weather was still beautiful from the distant hurricane, all summer I’d been avoiding outside anytime before 7 pm because it’s so awfully hot, but this day was really nice. At home Charlie suggested that I do lunges up and down the stairs, to help baby engage in a good position. Property Brothers was on the tv most of the day, and I sat on a pilates ball a lot too.
I was having much harder contractions by the end of the day, while walking they were every couple minutes and I’d have to stop to rest with my hands on my knees until they were over, but they were only 5-7 minutes apart if I wasn’t walking.
When Charlie checked my dilation in the morning I was 3 cm, at 8 pm I was only 4 cm, so at that point we decided we needed to transfer to a hospital.
I had never had a baby in a hospital, and I really didn’t want to.
I was worried that I’d have to be in a bed hooked up to continuous monitors. I was worried how I’d handle the pain without a water birth tub. I was worried I’d end up getting an epidural if I had no other way to cope with pain. I was frustrated because I hadn’t researched epidurals since before Kaden was born and I couldn’t even remember the reasons I knew I didn’t want one. I was concerned I might end up with a C-section. I was upset I had to leave the kids, especially Leo because I’d never left him overnight before. It also came to mind that I’d never even read about what to pack in your hospital bag, because I’d never packed a hospital bag.
I generally try to hold things together, but Charlie told me it was okay to be upset or disappointed. That it’s going to be okay, but it’s normal to feel frustrated when things don’t go the way you expected or wanted. I cried a bit then, and on the drive to the hospital.
I think what bothered me most of all was really not knowing what to expect. Who I’d be seen by, what the process would be.
But overall I knew then and now that the most important thing was that baby and I were healthy. If Charlie said there were real risks then I trusted her judgment, so we would go to the hospital.
My mom drove me there while Landon got Leo to sleep, then he met us at the hospital just a little after we got there.
I text a couple friends an update asking for prayer, and sent Christine a quick “remind me why I don’t want an epidural?” text (because I knew she’s had both natural and epidural births in a hospital, and with and without pitocin), so she called me on the drive and told me what her experience was each way. She also said “and if you end up wanting or needing the epidural, that’s okay too!” But that her recovery after having a natural birth was much easier, that as soon as baby was born she felt great, but after having an epidural was much harder.
That was encouraging to me. I think I had in my mind that contractions with pitocin would be much harder (especially with no water), but Charlie kept telling me “you just need a tiny bit, and that baby’s going to be out.”
We went to Lakeland Regional Health at Charlie’s recommendation, because she said they see a lot of home birth transfers there, and they also have hospitalist midwives who see patients, so hopefully I might be able to see one of them.
Charlie also said she would be staying with me the whole time, which I was very relieved about. It wasn’t something I’d ever given much thought to previously! But it was a tremendous help and comfort to have her with me. After this experience, I would highly recommend hiring a doula if you plan a hospital birth – having someone stay with you the whole time who knows what’s going on and how to support you makes a huge difference!
It took a long time to get checked in, I was in triage waiting for quite awhile. Finally I was seen by a male doctor from Africa, who took my vitals and was going to be my OB. He was nice I think, but insisting that I get on IV antibiotics right away because my water was broken (I did not want antibiotics if there was no evidence baby or I needed them), and seemed very conventional, which I don’t think would have gone very well as far as what I wanted in a birth experience. Also, I’ve never been to a male OBGYN, and really didn’t care to start now.
So I asked if it would be possible to see one of the hospital midwives, and he hesitated a little but said yes.
I finally got to a room sometime after midnight, and met my Labor and Delivery nurse, Samantha. She said she’d been called in that night because so many people were having babies, which everyone said was from the hurricane. I guess barometric pressure can make your water break. She was super nice, so I was glad she was there.
The hospital midwife’s name was Carrie (I have since learned, I didn’t catch it that night.) She came in and we talked for a few minutes. She asked what I wanted to do, I said not have antibiotics, and I guess get some pitocin. She said what Charlie had said, that I’d only need a tiny bit, and she really didn’t mind whether I had antibiotics or not, unless I had a fever. I asked her if I could labor in water, even though I knew the hospital’s rule was no. She said what I already knew, that I couldn’t with my water broken. I just had to ask anyway.
I got hooked up to an IV, and monitors for baby’s heart rate. They had something called a Monica, which was a wireless monitor, so that was nicer, even though I still had to be hooked to an IV (and I really, really dislike needles.)
I had still been having 5-7 minute contractions that were pretty intense on the drive over, definitely could not talk through them. They hooked up my IV to the pitocin and I guess contractions picked up. Samantha found me a birth ball when I asked for one, and I leaned over that in the bed during contractions, which helped a lot. Charlie and Landon squeezed or pushed on my back during contractions too, which was incredibly helpful. In lieu of being in water, I don’t think I could have coped without that. I also squeezed my mom’s hands, which I kind of felt bad about, because it was reeeeally hard.
I guess I had pitocin about an hour (because I’ve been told so) when I started having super hard contractions and felt baby coming. I had one pushing contraction standing in the bathroom (it was wheelchair accessible so had handicap railings along the wall that were helpful to hold onto during contractions.)
During that one Charlie said she could see baby’s head and told my mom to push the call for nurse button. The nurse had come in anyways because I guess she could hear me, and said we needed to move out to the bed. I said there was no way I could move, but they said they’d help me after the next contraction. So we did and I ended up on hands and knees in the hospital bed, had 2 more pushes, and baby was born!
Pushing is so intense! I forget after awhile how crazy it is. And it’s hard because at the same time that I don’t want to do this, I know that doing this is the only way that will get it over with! It’s rough. Charlie said later that I really didn’t complain much though – I said “these contractions suck” once, but she thought that was pretty mild.
But finally baby was here, and that it the greatest feeling of relief I think you could ever have. I was so happy to see her, to know she was here with us and okay, and to be done with labor!
It is so crazy to meet and hold a little person who means so much to the rest of your life for the very first time. So happy, tired, joyful, and the greatest sense of relief.
Kjersti weighed in at 7 lbs. 13 oz., and measured 20.5” long. She had extremely long finger nails that we trimmed the next day, because she kept scratching her face. She was strong, could hold up her head right away, and seemed so intrigued looking into everything that was going on around her.
We chose for her a Norwegian name that was my great great great grandma’s. It means “Christ-like” and her middle name “Rae” means “light”, which I think is perfect.
Kaden said to me a couple weeks after she was born “I think Kjersti should mean happiness”. I asked him “because she makes you so happy?” and he said “mhmm”.
We spent the next day and night at the hospital, which was overall a nice experience. Honestly the only thing I could really complain about was the food (really, it was surprisingly awful), but everything went much better than I had pictured hospital birth to be.
I know a huge part of that was having a great support team with me – I couldn’t have done it without Landon, my mom, and Charlie.
And I really believe that everyone’s prayers were answered through the people I was seen by at the hospital – they were so nice and accommodating, and that made such a huge difference!
The kids came to meet Kjersti around lunch time – They were all so excited! They took turns holding her, and swarmed around her the rest of the time.
Kjersti is such a blessing, we are all so happy to have her here as part of our family.
She is a precious, beautiful, sweet little thing, and we all love her so much!