With Boone, I had an out of no where “surprise! you are having your baby today” experience via c-section at 36 weeks and 5 days. His full birth story can be found here. With Crew, I went into labor one day past my due date after having my membranes stripped that morning and delivered her via an extremely painful and drug-free VBAC. Her full birth story can be found here.
Despite having gone through 10 weeks of The Bradley Method classes and been very on board with having a completely natural, drug-free birth, I have described the experience of having our daughter, Crew, as something that I survived; not conquered. In the end, I was not the picture perfect woman who remained calm and could stay on top of each contraction with the relaxed breathing exercises she had learned. No, I was the woman you would picture out of a movie…completely out of control, yelling at people, hitting my husband. I think all of the people who were witness to me on that evening would agree that, perhaps, I don’t handle pain all that well. Suffice it to say, I was much more open to receiving an epidural this time around.
The tricky thing was…would I be eligible to receive an epidural if I wanted one? Weeks leading up to my due date, we discovered that my platelet count was below normal and was dropping more and more each week that passed. It turns out that I had a condition called Thrombocytopenia, which in my case, was pregnancy induced and causes low platelets. A normal platelet count for a pregnant woman is anything above 150. At one point, my count had dropped to 98. In order to receive an epidural, I needed to at least have my count at 100. The week before I delivered, my labs revealed that my count had gone up to 114. I was so relieved, but hoping and praying that they would not drop down again.
It was 2:30am the morning of Sunday, January 3rd when I woke from my sleep with contractions. For the next hour, they were 10 minutes apart, but definitely feeling stronger than the Braxton Hicks contractions I had been having. At 3:30am, I woke Geoff up to let him know I wasn’t sure if this was the real thing, but that I was going to take a shower just in case it was. From 4am-7am, I stayed in bed breathing fairly easily through each contraction and was able to sleep in between them. When the kids and Geoff woke at 7am, we decided to go ahead and arrange for his parents to pick them up just in case. Worst case scenario…if this was a false alarm…we would just pick them up later that day. We also called my mom and had her come over, as she was going to be there for the delivery.
I continued to contract for the next eight hours…contractions were fairly regular and building in intensity slowly, but we were still unsure if this was the real thing. We spent this time napping, eating lunch, finishing watching the last part of the Twilight series and walking around the block. Walking the block took forever, as I frequently had to stop to breathe through a contraction. Upon our return, it was 3pm. Geoff headed out to get sandwiches and my mom suggested I take a bath to see if it would either help me to progress or stop my contractions completely. After about 30 minutes in the bath, I got out to find that my contractions had gotten much worse and were closer together than they had been. It was at this point that I declared two things: 1) I’m ready to go to the hospital and 2) I definitely want the epidural if my platelet count was high enough. Off to the hospital we went.
We arrived to triage around 4:30pm. I was very serious at this point and am certain I scared a lot of other patients in there with the sounds I was making when a contraction would hit, which were between 2-4 minutes apart at that point. The triage nurse checked me…I was a 6, which surprised my mom, Geoff and I. The nurse then drew my blood and sent it down to the lab for my platelets to be checked to see if they would be high enough to get the epidural and Geoff texted our friend, Allison, who would be photographing the birth.
By 5:30 I was in my labor room. Y’all, things got crazy. Contractions quickly escalated. With how fast and strong they were coming, I knew I was in transition. This panicked me, as I didn’t think I’d have time to get the epidural. And I really didn’t want to push the baby out without it. With Crew’s delivery, I never felt the urge to push and I certainly didn’t feel “relief” when pushing with her. The whole thing was excruciating and I didn’t care to relive it this time around.
After 15 minutes, I started feeling pressure. My nurse went to check me for dilation again and declared I was a nine. A NINE. I remember shouting three things in between contractions: 1) I can’t do it!, 2) Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!, and 3) I’m in transition! During contractions I found myself clinging on for dear life onto the side of the bed and shouting at anyone who would dare catch my glimpse, “HELP ME! PLEASE…HELP ME!” It was bananas.
My blood work finally came back and revealed I my platelet count was 126…praise, PRAISE God! Thankfully the anesthesiologist was right there waiting and quickly got to work. As I sat on the edge of my bed…half hugging my pillow/half holding onto Geoff…I prayed out loud and over and over and over again, “God, please, please let it work. Jesus, please.” I was SO thankful that that prayer was answered. Within 5 minutes, it was working. Within 10 minutes, it was pure bliss.
My dear friend, Ashley, is in nursing school and happened to be shadowing one of the nurses in labor and delivery that day. In fact, she is only there on Sundays and gets off at 7pm, so the chances that she would be there weren’t high. I loved that it worked out the way that it did.
After about a half hour of letting me catch my breath, my midwife checked me again (I was complete) and broke my water. We then decided to let the baby come down a little more before pushing. A little after 7pm I started pushing…and at 7:25pm, my baby was here. Geoff announced “it’s a boy!” and our sweet baby was lifted onto my chest.
Grey Adam Schultz was born at 7:25pm January 3rd, 2016. He weighed 8 lbs. 12 oz. and was 22 inches. We couldn’t love this child more.
All images were photographed by our friend, Allison Fowler. We love you, friend, and will treasure these always.
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