If you're anything like me, you probably love a good birth story. Hearing all my friends and family members birth stories, I knew very well - there are no two births that are the same. My first birth experience was not what I expected, imagined, or wanted and did not leave me with warm, fuzzy thoughts. I never imagined I would say these words or have these feelings about a day that was supposed to be one of the best days of my life. Regardless of how it happened...I will always believe that it still qualified as one of the best days of my life despite the circumstances and because of the incredible outcome... my perfect in every way, baby girl!
Living in Georgia, 2,500 miles away from home and our parents was definitely not our first choice, but it was our reality. So we planned ahead to make it the best possible experience we could. My parents made sure to book their flights a week after my due date "just in case". Ethan realized he had his final training for his course right over the week of our due date, which meant five days of drills and tactical camping out in the field. He bought a battery pack to charge his phone with so I would be able to get a hold of hm in time to get me to the hospital. As well as phone numbers to a few of the leaders in charge in case I couldn't contact him. His commander was actually really great about allowing him to be there for me at doctors appointments and the delivery when it came time. Our Doctor also scheduled us to be induced on Dec. 6th at 7:00 am if I went over my due date. This was our plan but as you know most births don't go as planned.
So here's what really happened...
Nov. 29th, 2017 - Our long awaited and highly anticipated Due Date. Leading up to this day was filled with long hours of walking, curbing and bouncing on the yoga ball. Both my mom and sister had their kids a week or two early which gave me the expectation that I would be like them. If you had been following my weekly blog posts leading up to the delivery you'll know that I had my membranes stripped every week starting at week 38, in hopes that it would start my labor like it had for my sister. Sadly, no such luck for me. We did experience a false alarm like most first time parents that landed us in the hospital on the night of the due date because of some bleeding and contractions. Even though it was a false alarm, it got Ethan out of the last two days of his field training to be with me. Ultimately, our due date came and passed with no sign of our baby girl.
Dec. 5th 2017 - 5:00pm - The day my parents flew into town. I remember thinking how excited I was that even though it was hard to go over my due date, it also meant that my mom would now get to be here for the delivery. I honestly believe baby girl was just waiting on her to arrive because she knew how much I would need her there. In fact, on the way to the airport to pick them up I was also timing my contractions which were increasing to about 5-10 Min's apart. I was literally standing in the airport watching for my parents in between my increasingly painful contractions.
When my parents arrived they were so excited to know that they would get to be here for the birth but also just to get to see me in my last few days of pregnancy and to be able to rub my cute big baby bump before it was gone. We talked with my parents how strong and consistent my contractions were getting and decided it was time to head into the hospital! Having discussed ahead of time that we wanted to do this first part together, just the two of us, we dropped my parents off back at our place on base and left them with our second car to meet up with us later. Ethan and I were so excited the whole way to the hospital and he even remembered to stop and get me some food and ice cream on the way since I wouldn't be able to eat anything after we had been admitted. Good job honey!
We arrived at the hospital in Augusta, Georgia at 6pm and because it was after hours we had to go through the emergency room. We were preregistered so figured it wouldn't take too long. However, they had us start filling out more paperwork which led me to believe it was going to take a while. That is until a sweet nurse watching me cringe through some contractions told them to skip the paperwork and get me up to L&D.
I was given a gown and room 219 where the nurse checked me determining I was dilated to a 3 and her head was already very low. They monitored me for a couple of hours before they decided I was ready to be officially admitted around 8pm. We then called up my parents and told them they could head over whenever they were ready. And that's when the waiting game really started. I imagined they would just go ahead and induce me at some point in the night considering I was originally scheduled to be induced the next morning anyways. However, they informed me that wouldn't be an option for me considering I was making SOME progress on my own. Even though it was hardly anything, I was literally making just enough to warrant me in-eligible to be induced.
It was a long night of slow progression. As my parents and Ethan tried to sleep around me in our room sprawled out on the couch and rocking chair, I tried to relax and breath through my contractions hoping for something, anything, to change. In the early hours of the morning around 3:45 my water started leaking. At 6:30am they came in and officially broke my water. Then at 8am they came in to give me the epidural. I sat on the edge of the bed pretty nervous with Ethan standing in front of me so I could hold onto him. Surprisingly, I barely even felt it! The worst part leading up to the birth was that dang catheter.
My doctor , Dr. Seehusen, stopped in to check on me around 9am and because the baby still wasn't dropping low enough he asked that I do some practice pushing with my nurse Sherry. Honestly Sherry was my lifesaver during the birth. My birth story would without a doubt be WAY different and WAY less positive without her Anyways, I'm not really sure why he called it "practice" pushing because two hours later we were still at it and I was exhausted. At 11 am they called for my doctor who was actually on his way to a mandatory meeting but before he left he requested no more access to my epidural button so I could feel the urge to push. Believe me, I could already feel the urge!! Anyways, since he couldn't be there the on call doctor from the Military base came in because they felt like it was time. The room was full of nurses and students watching. I remember the first hour after the doctor arrived was just more straight pushing. At noon the doctor gave the go ahead to turn the room over to be ready to deliver and all of the nursers started calling out their guesses on the delivery time. Most ranging within the next 10 Min's to a half hour which gave me a lot of hope because at this point I had been literally pushing for three constant hours. I was a little bugged with my doctor who was actually training a new girl and he never once looked at me or spoke directly to me. My nurse Sherry was basically calling all the shots and getting frustrated herself after three hours of helping me push with no baby to show for it.
Things got a little scary the last half hour. The details I'm about to share are actually ones I heard myself from Ethan and my mom because at this point I was pretty out of it.I guess a student nurse left the room crying. Apparently she was scared and couldn't watch anymore.Sherry had me pushing so many different ways during the first three hours. First by holding the handles on the bed, second, pulling my legs towards me that the nurse and Ethan were holding up and lastly the most creative. Sherry tied both ends of a bed sheet in knots and stood down at the end of the bed from me and then we basically just played tug-of-war for about a half hour. At one point Sherry even had to push sideways on my stomach because the baby wasn't coming down straight.
I remember feeling so exhausted and like I literally couldn't push for a second more. By this point my epidural had worn off almost completely so aside from the exhaustion from all the breathing and pushing, i was starting to feel the physical affects. I would look up at Ethan and see the fear in his face as he looked at me and then to my mom. She said later that she felt so bad for him because he would look at me and feel helpless then look at my mom hoping she could somehow do something or give him advice. Aside from the fear in his eyes I could also feel and hear his reassurance that kept me going. My mom was amazing to have there as well and I couldn't have gotten through the last half hour without their encouragement. The most frustrating part towards the end was hearing all the nurses telling me things like " one more push, she's coming, we can see her head, she's almost here." Only for the time to continue to pass with no baby. By this point the doctor decided I was going to need an episiotomy which he didn't like to do so therefore hadn't done a lot of. Because the epidural had worn off he had to give me a localized shot to numb the area before he cut me basically from front to back. Sorry TMI? Actually, not sorry, you are reading a birth story after all ;)
The doctor determined that baby girls head was facing down but was also turned at an odd angle which was making it hard for her head to come out. At this point we were out of options and I was completely exhausted and wearing an oxygen mask because I was literally passing out after every third push. My doctor ultimately decided a vacuum attempt was necessary. Unfortunately, the first vacuum they tried wasn't strong enough so they had to use a different one leaving two marks on her poor little head and a scab that she has yet to get rid of even a month later. Finally after 4 long hours of straight pushing, a complete episiotomy and two vacuum attempts later, our beautiful baby girl was born!
GRACE MAE JANSON
6'12 20 inches
Dec 6th, 2017 @ 1:08pm
The following couple of days was a blurr. She had swallowed some meconium at birth so they did have to pump her little stomach once. We were in the hospital from Tuesday night until Friday afternoon which meant we missed being able to attend Ethan's Graduation on base. Luckily my dad and his brother that had flown into town were able to attend and to Facebook live the whole thing so my mom and I watched him walk from our hospital room. I was so proud of him, for graduating and making it through his course all while putting up with a pregnant wife and a delivery right during the middle of it. In fact, just a few hours after they released us from the hospital, Ethan took my parents and I back to our hotel to wait for our flight on Monday, while he took off across country to drive all our belongings and our car home. That was so hard for him to leave his brand new baby and I but he knew we would do much better on a four hour flight than a 32 hour car ride. He was absolutely right too, Grace never cried even once on the plane and she fed on take off and landing so her ears wouldn't pop.
(Lieutenant Ethan Janson after his Graduation)
(Lieutenant Ethan Janson after his Graduation)
(on our flight home)
Grace did have to spend 16 hours over night in the blue lights because her bilirubin count was so high at a 17. That was probably one of the longest nights of my life. The nurses had to poke her heal to test her blood every couple of hours and almost every time they didn't get enough blood and would have to do it all over again. That's when my first encounter with "momma bear" happened. I was not happy with these young nurses who didn't seem to know what they were doing. She did really well and hardly cried at all, but I just couldn't lay in the hospital bed next to her and fall asleep because she had little goosebumps on her legs in the lights. Regardless of how sore and tired I was, I sat on the edge of the bed next to her and covered her tiny legs with my arm while I watched every single hour of the night pass by. I learned it was true already, mother's will do anything for their babies.
My amazing nurse Sherry. She was amazing and we jokingly offered to fly her out to Utah for my next birth. Partially jokingly because I really couldn't have gotten through it without her and believe it probably would have ended in a C-section had she not been there. She even came in the next day just to appologize for how everything went and for the doctor. She said it never should have gone like that!