It’s hard to believe that just over a week ago, our firstborn son, Jaylen Micah Stroud, was born. Toward the end of my pregnancy, I had December 11 in my mind as a possible birth date for some reason. My actual due date was December 14, but I was hoping the baby would come between my birthday (Dec. 8) and then. Similar to the dream I had early in pregnancy where I dreamed I was having a boy, there may have been some kind of mother’s intuition or something going on because I went into labor on December 11 and our little boy was born the morning of December 12.
I’m not going to go into great detail, but here’s a nice little timeline with my commentary of Jaylen’s birth.
10:30 pm We arrived home from having dinner at some church friends’ home. I’d felt some contractions while we were there, but I thought they were Braxton Hicks contractions and they weren’t very regular so I didn’t think anything of them. I took Chloe outside, brought her back in, went back out to check the mail, came in & had to go to the bathroom. After I went, I had an extra gush of liquid and my first thought was, “Oh no…did my water break?” I was taking a while so Gerald came down to see if I was okay and I told him, “I think my water broke!” That’s when I think we both started getting a little nervous & anxious.
I wanted to wait a little while to make sure I was actually leaking amniotic fluid before actually calling the doctor. So I texted my mom to let her know what happened and Gerald finished up some of his sub plans while I was trying to decide if I should call or not. Finally, at about 11:00, I was convinced I needed to call because I knew once your water broke you needed to head to the hospital soon. When I talked to the on-call doctor, she told me to start heading to the hospital. So I set my out of office message for maternity leave for work and quickly finished putting together my hospital bag. I also set everything out for Chloe and told my parents they needed to come pick her up.
12:00 am Gerald and I finally headed off to the hospital
12:30 am We check in to labor & delivery. I’m still not really feeling any contractions. They immediately hook me up to the monitor to monitor baby’s heart rate and my contractions and then get me started on an IV. That’s when I knew I was going to be stuck in bed so I wouldn’t be able to move around in labor like I would’ve liked. I was already 2 cm dilated, which I had been for a couple weeks. The nurse talked to the doctor and said that they would monitor my contractions until about 4 am and then if they didn’t get stronger and closer together, they would start me on Pitocin. I even had a contraction while she was talking to me but I didn’t feel anything. She asked me what my pain level was on a scale of 1 to 10 and I honestly said it was a zero. So Gerald and I tried to take advantage of those next few hours to get some rest, which honestly was hard for me to do. It wasn’t very comfortable in that bed and being hooked up to all these things.
4:30 am The nurse came back to check on me and said they were going to start me on Pitocin because my contractions were still irregular. I really didn’t want to get on Pitocin if I didn’t have to be because I would’ve preferred if my labor could continue naturally, but oh well. They gave me the lowest dose and soon after that, I started feeling the contractions more. I felt them before they started Pitocin too, but they weren’t very painful. As I lay there and the contractions started getting a little more intense, I started thinking maybe now I should ask for an epidural because this could take a while and if it’s going to get worse than this, I think I might want the medication.
5:00 am My nurse came back to check on me and I told her I wanted an epidural. It took a while for them to get everything ready for that and to call the anesthesiologist in. While I was waiting, my contractions started getting more intense and painful. Gerald had to leave the room while they administered the drug. Unfortunately my contractions were getting more intense at this point and I had to try to hold still. I started sweating and felt like I was going to throw up. It didn’t help that the blood pressure monitor also started trying to read my blood pressure while all this was going on. This was the worst part of my labor. It felt like it took forever for him to get the epidural in & start the medication. Even after he finished and they had me lie back down, I could barely talk and I still felt miserable. Soon after that though, the drugs started working and I felt SO much better. This was around 5:30. Gerald came back in and said I looked so relaxed. I actually started getting sleepy and wanted to take a nap. I couldn’t feel any contractions anymore, but I could still move my legs (though they felt numb).
6:00 am Nurse came back to check on me and told me that it seemed like I just needed the epidural to relax me because now I was dilated to 8 cm! I was shocked when she told me that because I didn’t expect it to go that quickly. She said she would tell the doctor to stay close by and that I should let her know if I felt any pressure. I felt slight pressure off and on for the next hour and finally called the nurse in again at 7 am.
7:00 am Nurse came back to check me and she could see the baby’s head. So he was just hanging out there probably for a while! She called the doctor and then a whole slew of other nurses also came into the room and started preparing for baby’s arrival.
7:20ish The doctor and nurse had me do some practice pushes and said I was a good pusher. That was helpful to know because I couldn’t feel anything down there to know if I was making any progress. The nurse had to watch the monitor to tell me when to push because I couldn’t feel my contractions at all. Then the doctor left for some reason and the nurse was just having me push, but baby’s heart rate started dropping drastically and the next thing I know they’re paging the doctor to get in there quickly and she said they were going to use the vacuum to get him out quickly. It was a little scary (probably more for Gerald since he could see the whole thing happening), but I just prayed in that moment that our son would be okay.
7:30ish I started helping the doctor by pushing during the contractions in addition to her using the vacuum and we got Jaylen out in probably about 5 or 6 pushes. All I know is it happened quickly.
7:46 am Jaylen was born weighing 6 lbs. 13 oz. and at 19 inches long.
I didn’t get to do skin-to-skin with him right away because the nurses took him over to clean him up and probably check on him. Gerald did get to go over there though (after cutting the umbilical cord). So unfortunately I could only watch from a distance while the doctor stitched me up. I heard him crying and I could see his little legs and I kept thinking, “I can’t believe he’s really here.” I’m thankful for a fairly easy (and actually relatively pain-free for most of it) and short labor.
So we’re about a week into this parenting thing and life with a newborn is a little rough. The lack of sleep, I think, is starting to catch up with me now. Plus no one talks about how difficult the mother’s recovery after labor & delivery can be. I was dealing with pain and discomfort from that up until a couple days ago. Not to mention the challenges of breastfeeding. Everyone keeps saying it gets better and it’s worth it, but sometimes I just keep wondering when that “better” stuff will start. It’s already a little better and I keep reminding myself that this is only a season. It won’t always be like this. Thankfully Gerald has been amazing with helping out around the house–cleaning up things that have been packed up in boxes in our basement and washing dishes (which he hates)–and changing diapers or holding Jaylen while he sleeps so I can get some rest or get something done.
Despite all the challenges of being a new parent, we love our little guy. His name, “Jaylen,” means “tranquil healer.” We chose this name because we like more unique names, but also because his birth is a reminder to us of the healing power of the cross and how God can redeem brokenness. His middle name, “Micah,” means “Who is like God?” We hope that Jaylen will grow up to be a young man who strives to follow God and be more like Christ daily. Jaylen, we’re blessed to be your parents!