It’s now a week + a day after Noelle joined our family, and I wanted to write up her birth story while it’s still fresh in my mind and I have extra hands on deck with the kids.
As I mentioned in my previous post, we planned for the doctor to break my water on December 28th (39 weeks gestation) so that we could have her in the hospital this time. We made that decision because it felt the safest – given how unexpected Hannah’s birth was, doing something that would give that sense of security seemed like the right call.
Internally, it always felt kind of weird to me. I’ve always subscribed to the notion that I would just let things take their course when it came to my kids’ births. They’d come when they’d come and God would determine the timing. I was never one to try all the tricks to induce labor at home – I’ve never curb-walked or eaten dates, pineapples, castor oil, or specialty pizzas to evict my children. Granted, I’ve also never gone overdue, so maybe I just never reached that point. So, choosing months ahead of time to set a date and time for her to come seemed very foreign. I wondered if I was forcing things, but I also wanted to know we’d have a different delivery outcome this time.
The evening of December 27, we went to bed early and set alarms to wake up in time to shower before our 6am induction appointment. I kissed my babies goodnight, thinking that would be the last time we put Hannah to bed as the baby of the family. But when I woke up at 4:30, I saw I had a missed call from the hospital. The induction was unable to happen that morning due to L&D being understaffed with nurses, but they said I should call back later in the day to see if they could fit me in. They couldn’t. My doctor called us in for a quick check up that afternoon, apologized, and said she would call me that afternoon with Plan B.
What a weird day that was. Sitting around all day thinking I would be holding my baby, but instead just…waiting. My doctor called and put us on the schedule for 11am on Thursday, December 30.
Thursday morning at 9:30, I got a call from another doctor at my practice, letting me know that we would not be able to be induced in Castle Rock that day either. She called ahead to Littleton Adventist to see if I could go there (my practice works out of both hospitals). They said they could take us if we wanted to drive out there, or we could maybe get in Friday in Castle Rock. At this point, I just wanted to get the process started. The extra days of waiting plus the increased daily probability of going into labor on my own led us to pack up our things, kiss our babies goodbye and head to a hospital we’d never toured, with a doctor we didn’t know, and in a county with more hospital restrictions than we had planned on.
We arrived in Littleton at 10:30ish and headed up to L&D. They were waiting for us, and we were quickly taken to a room to start the process of check in. We had pre-registered with Castle Rock, but all of that information wasn’t transferred over to Littleton so we had to go through my health history, fill out some forms and get asked a million questions before we could start the actual induction. The nurse called over to my practice to get the doctor to come break my water, but the doctor was unable to come over until after an urgent procedure she had to perform. The nurse checked me and said I was at 2cm but that my cervix wasn’t as soft or effaced as my doctor said it was the week before (still confused on how 2 doctors 2 weeks in a row said 50% but the nurse said 25%), so she recommended that we either start Pitocin, which I wasn’t ready to do, or use Cytotec to get my cervix prepped before the doctor could come. We agreed to try that just so we weren’t sitting around for hours with nothing happening. We did that at 11:30 and the doctor was supposed to be available to come around 1:30.
1:30 came and went and we had some really terrible pizza from the cafe in the interim. I will definitely say the food in Castle Rock is superior to the food at Littleton, but that’s probably unfair since Castle Rock has an actual restaurant in it.
It was 3:30 before the doctor was able to come and see me. At that point, I was 3cm dilated and 80% effaced, so the Cytotec did help out. Dr. Brink broke my water and said she’d check back in a couple hours to see how things were progressing and if we wanted to make adjustments to the plan. Contractions did pick up, and they did get to the point where they were not just noticeable but had an element of being painful as well. I also started to experience some back labor, which was a new development.
At 5:30, the doctor checked again and my body had moved us to 4cm. The contractions were more painful, but not consistent. The doctor and nurse asked if we wanted to start pitocin – at the lowest dosage, just to get things consistent.
More than any other labor, I felt like I had to make so many decisions this time around. Do we go to Littleton or wait for Castle Rock? Do we do Cytotec? Do we start Pitocin? It was honestly pretty exhausting. And the nurse, while nice, would ask me and then expect an answer pretty quick. I wanted to be able to talk things over with Stephen at every point – he is so level headed and keeps me grounded when I’m in an emotional spiral of questioning everything. So the nurse finally got the hint and left the room, and we could talk it out. At this point, I really just wanted to meet her. I was ready to get past the questions and choices and get to the baby snuggling portion of the evening. A part of me felt like that was somehow unfair to Noelle, but Stephen assured me that the rest of everything would be about taking care of her, but that right now the decisions needed to be about taking care of me. He’s so wise.
I want to be clear about something at this point. I think labor and delivery are a sacred process and that every mom should make the choices that are right for her – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. If you want to have a baby at home, get it, girl. If you want to do a birth center– yes girl. If you want to be in a hospital, more power to you. If you want to go unmedicated or know up front you want the epidural – do what makes you feel safe and will help you to get the experience you want. Prior to this birth, I had Jonathan unmedicated in a hospital, Abigail with an epidural in a hospital, and Hannah unmedicated at home. I’ve run the gamut of various birthing experiences, and just wanted to make the best choice for us.
I agreed to start Pitocin, but only at the lowest setting. The way it would work would be to start at 2 and then after a half an hour the nurse would come back and increase it slightly. At 6:05, we started the Pitocin. It didn’t take long for the contractions to get more legit. I decided at that point that I didn’t want my last delivery to be harder than it needed to be – everything else before that seemed so hard, from getting to actually go to a hospital to waiting all day and making tons of decisions, that I decided to opt for the epidural and make that one part easier.
At 6:35 the nurse returned, and seeing that I was clearly having much more substantial contractions, agreed to up the Pitocin by just 1 instead of 2. I let her know I wanted to go forward with the epidural and she went to get the order in to the anesthesiologist.
It takes a bit of time for the epidural to be prepped and placed, so we hit a nurse shift change in the middle of the process. A very nice nurse came in for about 5 minutes while the shifts changed to help me stay in position and support me while the anesthesiologist did his thing. Her name was Shelby and while she didn’t necessarily look like Rebekah, her mannerisms and way of talking was so similar that it put me at ease to have a psuedo-sister-in-law there.
While we were in the process of the epidural, my new nurse, Jasmine came on the scene. I saw her taking notes on the timing of the various parts of the process and the epidural placement was officially “complete” at 7:14pm, then they started the meds. They said it takes about 20 minutes to take full effect, so the nurse would be back in a half hour to insert a catheter as I would no longer be able to walk to the bathroom should I need it. Everyone left the room and I texted Joanna (who I had been texting the whole time – it’s so nice to chat it out with someone who just experienced all of it and understands) that it was in and they’d be back for the catheter (text time 7:26pm). My last text update to my family was at 7:30.
It couldn’t have been long before I told Stephen that I was starting to feel pressure. It wasn’t super intense yet, but I thought maybe things were starting. Jasmine came back into the room a few minutes later to get things set up for the catheter placement and I told her I was feeling pressure. She said that she would check me because maybe she wouldn’t even have to place the catheter. To which I responded, “No, she’s coming right now.” The epidural took care of the contraction pains, but I could still 100% feel my body start to push. Just like that, Stephen was at my side and her head was out. Jasmine pushed the nurse call button for help. She told them to send the doctor and transition nurse. They were clearly not ready for that and responded with, “what?!” And when no one came, she told Stephen to yell out the door for help. Help did not come fast enough. Jasmine rushed to grab gloves and a towel, told me to do one more push and Noelle was born at 7:47pm – with no doctor present. Jasmine had delivered her all on her own. 7lbs 8.2oz and 20 inches of perfection.
Then the doctor (who had been down the hall) and charge nurse came in to assist. Dr. Brink was like “oh, so that’s how you have babies!” Noelle and I both were checked out and healthy. Jasmine made me a Mommy Mocktail to celebrate (orange & cranberry juices + ginger ale) and we (Stephen) got the word out to our family.
In the days since she’s been born, I’ve been able to recognize God’s hand in the whole process. Though I was disappointed to have to go all the way out to Littleton, I feel like God was protecting me by making things happen that way. I’m stubborn, and He knows it, so I think He orchestrated the induction cancellations in Castle Rock to get me away from that hospital, which I wouldn’t have chosen myself. I can’t be sure, but I think maybe being in that space again after being sent home to deliver alone would have been harder than I anticipated.
As I said at the start of this, I had uncertainty about inducing. But in the wake of another crazy fast delivery, I am confident that we made the right choice. If I had gone into labor on my own, and waited to go to the hospital (which was severely understaffed) until the real contractions hit, there’s no guarantee we would have made it there. Noelle could have been born in the car or the hallway during check in. This ensured that we were already in the right place when the time came to deliver.
Lastly, and I didn’t even really see this until a few days later when Dan and Joanna came over to meet her and we were recounting the story, I feel confident the epidural was the right choice. Knowing how fast everything happened after I got it, I acknowledge that I probably could have toughed it out (hey, I’ve done it twice before). But, what I realized while talking with them, is that if I hadn’t gotten the epidural, Jasmine wouldn’t have come back into the room to set up the catheter. If she wasn’t in the room, Stephen would have had to deliver Noelle himself. Once my body started pushing, there was no stopping it.
When things settled down a bit, Jasmine told us that a week or two before she had been at the nurses station talking to the other nurses and said she had never delivered a baby alone and that she was kind of scared to do so. Then in walks the Rabon family and she had to do it – and she did great! There’s no preparing for that and she did what needed to be done to make sure we were both taken care of. What a life-changing experience to get to share with her, and I think God put us in each other’s path to make it happen.
What a way to go out of the child-birthing phase of life. I wanted to go out on my own terms, and short of the rigamarole that was trying to actually make the induction happen, I think we did that. We made the choices that felt right in the moment and in the end we had a safe, healthy delivery. Noelle is here and our family is complete.
Stephen sent me an excerpt from our 2011 Christmas letter a couple nights ago, which said this:
“Amanda and I celebrated and mourned the conception and miscarriage of our first child this year. Nothing puts your future more quickly into perspective when you think you have a little one on the way, nor turns it so quickly upside down when that future is lost. Still, God always remains faithful and we are looking forward to seeing what He has planned for the future of our family.”
If you had told us 10 years ago when we lost our first baby that we would have 4 kids someday, I wouldn’t have believed you. We’re living a life now that at that time would have seemed like the least probable thing in the world. What an incredible and blessed 10 years He’s given us.