October 9, 2013

Joseph Peter's Birth Story

I have heard many times that epidurals make it harder to remember. For me this was definitely true. I want to have all the minutes recorded so I can look back over this story and remember all the pain and joy and words during my labor and after the delivery of Joseph Peter. But I just can't. Every now and again I go back and reread the birth stories of my other kids and it is good for my memory and heart. I'm a little sad that I won't be able to do it for Joseph and I hope he doesn't feel short-changed if some day in the future he compares his birth story to his siblings' and sees the shocking lack of detail in comparison. It'll be adding insult to to the injury that while L has a baby book with pictures and all kinds of things written down I didn't even bother buying him one.

Alas, future Joseph Peter, please forgive your mother who needed pain medication and therefore couldn't remember much of anything about your birth story! I already feel guilty about it. Alright already! I'll bake you some cookies to make up for it! I'm sorry!

Ahem... Let me pull myself together...

On Tuesday, July 9th I was awakened at 4am  not by contractions or my water breaking but by a phone call. I was scheduled to arrive at Methodist Hospital at 6am to begin my pitocin. Instead I was told to stay at home because they were full and would call me when a bed opened up. So back to sleep I went for a few more hours. When I did climb out of bed I told Travis I'd like to go to the mom's group at my church so they could pray over me one last time. It was a special treat since I would have otherwise missed that chance.

Shortly after I got home Trav left to run an errand but had forgotten something and had to turn around. Just as he was pulling up to the house I called to tell him we were ready to head in. It was 12 noon.
I made him take my picture.
We got to hospital at 12:30 and began pit around 2pm. I sat in bed, waiting for the drugs to do their thing. Nothing happened and nothing happened and nothing happened. I was getting really hungry and so we talked with my midwife and decided to turn it off at 8pm so I could have supper. My food finally came at 10pm and shortly after I went to sleep, ready to begin again in the morning.

Wednesday morning the nurse came in, woke me up, and began my pit again. I tried walking the halls but it's pretty boring when you're being monitored and can only go so far. Up and down the hall again and again, pushing my iv, wearing two hospital gowns that were humongous. This time I asked for a birthing  ball so I could give birth that day. I bounced on that sucker for hours which helped bring the baby into position and helped me dilate, admiring the beautiful bouquet of flowers my mom sent to help encourage me.

In addition to the flowers I was also able to look out my window and have a perfect view of the back of St. Mary's Cathedral. I had so much turmoil throughout the pregnancy and it brought me a great deal of peace to have that view. I would often gaze that the spot where I knew the tabernacle was and pray to Jesus. Even though He was blocks away in the Blessed Sacrament I felt so close to Him and it felt like an answer to prayer.

Contractions began to pick up and we decided it was finally time for an epidural around 3pm. Travis and I watched a video where the woman said her husband was with her in the room as he support while she got the epidural. After the video was done and the anestesiologist arrived Travis was told to leave. Neither of us liked that and I protested that the video said he could be there but it wasn't enough and he was kicked out for hospital policy.

Getting the epidural was the worst part. I'm super sensitive in my back and tried explaining this to the anestesiologist. "I wll jump - you should touch my back before you touch my back. I'm like a horse, you need to keep a hand on me at all times." Everyone laughed and I said I was serious.

I sat on the edge of the bed with my nurse right in front of me, holding my shoulders. I gripped her arm and apologized for the bruises I was possibly leaving on her upper arms. At one point I had shooting pain going diagonally down from the spot where the epidural entered my back to the spot in my right hip that had bothered me all pregnancy. The pain was incredibly intense, made worse by the man with the needle jiggling things in my back. Or that's what it felt like.

When the epidural was in I laid on my right side and they propped up my legs. Travis came back in and we were alone. I started to cry. Honestly, despite how wonderful and professional everyone was getting the epidural was horrible for me and I felt scared. After the nine months of pregnancy which were really difficult for me emotionally and mentally I was so worried I wouldn't be able to give birth, that when it came to the moment I wouldn't be able to handle it. I was worried for another dead baby. I was worried the epidural wouldn't work and I would still feel the pain.

Travis sat by my bed and held my hand. He calmed me and reassured me. And he asked me what we would name the baby if he was a boy. I had known the girl name since the positive ept but we had never decided on a name for a baby boy, though we were leaning towards Joseph.

"What will Joseph's middle name be?" Travis asked and I smiled at his confidence that the baby was a boy. We went over the possible middle names again: Andrew? Thomas? Kolbe? Travis suggested Peter and I immediately loved it.
The flowers from Mom. 

Joseph for St. Joseph and also a nod to a family member I was once close with. And Peter for St. Peter but also for our first child, Peter, who I miscarried. I was touched that Travis had thought of the name and I smiled at him, so grateful for the man I'd married.

Transition finally began around 6pm. My midwife had really wanted me to be able to have feeling while I was pushing. She was afraid that the baby would get stuck (like two of my previous ones had) and she wanted me to be aware of my body in case that happened. So we turned the epidural meds down, though not off.

It was horrible.

There I was in transition, feeling incredible pain, and pretty much having a panic attack. I was laying on my left side to help the baby descend and my left hip seemed to be the epicenter of every contraction. I began banging the side of the bed and yelling at people.

"I cannot do this!"
"Why are you making me do this?!"
"I can't feel this pain!"
"We need to do a c-section."

When I asked about the c-section I was told that there was already a woman going in for a c-section and they had to keep the other room open for an emergency.

"This is an emergency! I can't do this!" I yelled.

"No, it's not, Bonnie. If you think you need a c-section I'll call Dr. K- but we will have to wait."

Dr. K- was called. In the meantime I begged them to turn the pain meds back up. The pain was too intense and the memory of the horrific pain from birthing Resa was ever present. I knew that if I had to continue to feel the pain I would really truly not be able to handle it.

The anesthesiologist came back into the room and I banged on the bed and yelled, "LISTEN TO ME!" The anesthesiologist stopped in his tracks and said, "Yes. What is it?" in the tone of a slightly scared boy. (He usually is on the OR floor and not the LD floor. So he's not used to laboring women screaming at him.)

"I cannot feel this and you have to do something to make the pain go away!"

And then he did. A shot of Lidocaine to get me through until the upped epidural kicked back in and I fell asleep during contractions, during transition. It was amazing. *This* is why women use drugs during childbirth!

I could feel him coming down and I told my midwife I felt a little like pushing though it wasn't time to push push. For about 30 minutes I would doze, wake up with a contraction, bear down a little bit, and doze again.

In the last 10 minutes the real pushing happened and while I could feel lots of pressure I felt no pain. It was exactly what I needed so I could safely deliver the baby and not completely lose control and have a panic attack.

As his head began to crown I was still on my left side but my midwife and nurses flipped me onto my back and hoisted my knees up and to my shoulders. Dr. K- whispered to my midwife, "That head just keeps coming," because it was so big. Just like Resa he got stuck on my pubic bone and the nurse had to push her fist down to free it. A good push and his head was born and one more push and he was born at 8:35pm.

While I am *so* glad I had the epidural and couldn't feel the pain I did really miss the awesome sensation of delivering him. If you've ever given birth naturally you'll know what I mean about that overwhelmingly glorious feeling of "He's OUT!" the moment the baby is completely delivered.

The next thing I remember was Travis' face near mine, a look of victory on his face as he said, "Joseph Peter is well."

"He's a boy?" I said as they passed him up to me.
I guess they had time to put a hat on him first.
 All of a sudden a man with curly dark hair was standing next to me and looking at my naked body and my naked baby. I asked who he was and was told he was a pediatrician to make sure the baby was okay but I really felt like he should have at least been introduced and I should have been covered up before he came in.

I don't remember much of what happened next. Everyone commented on how big he was and we wondered about how much he would weigh  Joseph was weighed, and was a whopping 11lbs 4.5oz.
Proof that he weighed that much.
made more comments about how my legs felt, pictures were taken, people were texted and called, and I found out that one of my nurses knew my very good friend Sr. Miriam with the Sisters of Life.  I was then moved to another room, which was way not as nice as the room I had labored in, we found out Joseph had jaundice, and then we spent 4 more days at the hospital. They finally were ready to discharge me but Joseph wasn't well enough to leave. So they set me up pretty in a room where on-call doctors usually sleep. I hobbled about, was highly praised by nursery nurses for having delivered such a big baby and not tearing, made small talk with the nurses and doctor, and I watched Stephen Fry's America on Hulu.
Not the best family picture but it's all we've got.
When he finally came home I was so, so happy.
L, B, and J meeting Joseph for the first time. T was napping. Had she been awake the picture would probably be even worse, if you can imagine that.

Joseph Peter is almost 3 months old and he is a joy. He's a good sleeper, a good eater, and a happy boy. Oh you should see him giggle and smile! Every time I hold him I pray, "I did not think I should have another baby. I did not think I could do this. But look at this great gift You have given me. You have been so good to me."
Newborn Joe and his blue eyes

I adore those baby fingers!

Such a serious sleeper.

PS - Having a planned induced, medicated hospital birth was very different than my home births (obviously) but even my non-medicated hospital birth with Resa. A lot of people have wondered which I liked better and I can honestly say that I am grateful for having experienced all of them. My home births are still my favorite but I needed to be in the hospital for Resa and Joseph's births. Every birth is different and may need something different for every woman, right? That's not a bad thing. But I am VERY glad I had the pain meds for Joseph. I actually wish I would have had them for Resa's. You can read more thoughts on this at Team Whitaker.


  1. Beautiful Bonnie! I don't think Joseph could possibly be disappointed from this.

    And I know ALL your children look alike, but he looks especially like Bennett in that last pic.

  2. Wow Bonnie that was super-intense to read, I can't imagine how it was to experience! Good for you for getting them to do what YOU needed.

  3. Bonnie, I loved this - all of it. Your honesty, your fears, your joys - it was just beautiful. Joseph will be honored to read this someday. You're a heck of a momma.

  4. Good job, Bonnie!! However our babies are born, medicated, unmedicated, hospital, home birth, c-section or vaginally, we all deserve a medal!

  5. You sound like you did an awesome job, especially for how big he was! I have four children and the biggest I've had is 7.5 lb baby and even that size un-medicated can feel so painful during labor. I know what you mean about feeling worried about the pain. I worried more for my fourth child than I did for the others. I was having trouble breathing because I was so scared during the labor. I was so thankful my doctor was in the room with the nurse, so he could also help calm me down. I'm so happy everything went well for you.

  6. Bonnie - thank you for your honesty. It so nice to hear someone say that sometimes those epidurals are a gift. I'm hoping to have a more natural labor next time, but not ashamed of already knowing that the epi is real option for me. =)

  7. sounds intense.

    I also experienced the gamut of different types of births. I understand a little too well since I also had a stillbirth and how that effects the psyche after subsequent births. I am also so scared to get epidurals that i shake like a leaf until they are in and working...but i also thank god for them. one of mine was in the hospital for jaundice too for a week and that is stressful in itself!

    what an adorable baby :)

  8. I'm really touched by how you put into words that feeling of the impossible made possible, the "this shouldn't be" to "this is", the what we want, or think we want, to what we have in our arms. So beautiful, Bonnie.

  9. What an intense experience! I have so much to comment on, but the thing that keeps coming to mind is that this birth happened in the way it was supposed to. I'm so glad that you shared this.

  10. Hi Bonnie,

    I have been reading your blog for the past few months. I have a 5 week old son. I was crying reading this post. He is my 3rd in 3 years and I felt the same way. My whole pregnancy I went back and forth between being overwhelmed and then sad about being pregnant, yet again. Now I look at him and I am so in love. I am so thankful that God knows what I need better than I do! Congrats on your beautiful baby!


  11. He is so so gorgeous!! And big! I think his birth is still full of detail, and it doesn't seem like you forgot anything to me. getting an epidural just makes for a normally less intense/less emotional labor, but this one was still a wild ride!

  12. I love that you don't decide on your names until the baby is actively on the way out. We do that too. We may have a general idea of the name but only labor actually cements it.

    I am impressed that it took you to the fifth baby to stop buying the baby books. Our oldest has a book with stuff in it. Our second has a book with nothing in it. The other two have no books.

    It's funny the little details you remember about labor. The one thing I really missed about delivering in the hospital that I didn't have at home was being able to see the clock. With the hospital deliveries I can tell you the time of when certain things happened. With my home delivery, I can tell you when things started and when they finished, but the times of all the things in between, I have no idea.

  13. You are an amazing rockstar. I loved getting to read this birth story. What a gorgeous child sweet Joseph Peter is and what a gorgeous mama he ha!. And he is huge! My word! I am completely astounded by your birthing awesomeness.

  14. Oh my goodness Bonnie! You're an inspiration. Lucy just got to 11.5 pounds and when my husband told me that, I immediately thought of you!