Before getting into Jacob’s birth, I want to share a little about the nine months of growing him! My second pregnancy with our son was overall very healthy. I did have your regular pregnancy symptoms, many the same as my pregnancy with Adeline, but heightened in intensity. I struggled with nausea from weeks 5-16, had to pee all the time, and had bouts of insomnia throughout. By far the toughest part for me this pregnancy, though, was the heartburn. I tried so many different medications (starting with the most natural like papaya enzymes) and ended up having to take a Zantac before every single meal. I also cut out all spicy food and slept at an angle to not be in constant discomfort.
Ultimately, though, I am very blessed for the pregnancy I had. Everything was really just an inconvenience on my end – not anything to worry about from the baby’s side. I know not everyone is as lucky, and I don’t take this for granted.
To help set the stage for Jacob’s birth, we decided to go with a midwife group within the same practice we used for Adeline’s birth. We also hired a doula to be part of our birth team. We had a doula for Adeline’s birth, and it was a really good decision for us, so we knew we wanted to have one again.
Getting Labor Going
40 weeks came and went, just like it did for Adeline. I had midwives this time around, and they don’t check you for dilation at any appointments until the 40 week mark. At my 40 week appointment (which was actually 40 weeks and 1 day) I was 2 centimeters dilated, but could be stretched to a 4. The midwife did a membrane sweep, which is when your provider sweeps a gloved finger between the thin membranes of the amniotic sac in your uterus. It stimulates prostaglandins, compounds that act like hormones and can control certain processes in the body. This can promote labor (and for me it worked like a charm both times). This process is not comfortable, but neither is being 40 weeks pregnant, so I welcomed anything that would get labor going naturally.
That same evening I had an appointment with a reflexologist. Induction reflexology has been known to help kick start labor so I wanted to give it a go. During my appointment, there were certain parts of my foot that the therapist would rub and I would have contractions. It was wild. I wasn’t really sure I believed in reflexology, but I do now. The contractions were sporadic, but even continued through my drive home.
I had acupuncture scheduled for the next day (another natural labor inducer), but it turned out we wouldn’t be needing it.
Around 11pm that night I started having contractions. At this point they were not patterned or painful. I texted my mom at this point to come over to be with Adeline in case we ended up heading to the hospital. I also had Marcus load up the car with our hospital bags so if we needed to go we would be 100% ready. The contractions didn’t stop, but I was able to get about an hour of sleep from about 2-3am. While in bed that night, in between contractions but before they were too uncomfortable, Marcus said a prayer for me and Jacob and for the delivery. That gave me a sense of peace going into what was sure to be a very intense next 24 hours.
To give some context, with Adeline’s labor we were rushing to get packed up and head to the hospital. We hit construction and traffic on the way there, and arrived at the hospital at 8cm dilated, with me in a lot of pain. You can read Adeline’s birth story here. I really wanted to avoid that stress this time around.
Heading to the Hospital
Around 4am the contractions were 7 minutes apart and lasting around 1 minute. We decided we would head to the hospital soon. At 4:25 the contractions were 5-6 minutes apart, and in an effort to keep the the stress as low as possible, we decided to head to the medical center. The contractions at this point were manageable, and the drive to the hospital was much more enjoyable than the last time. We were able to talk in between contractions, joke around a bit and take in the fact that we were likely going to be coming home a family of four. This drive was actually a sweet memory for me this time around, and I’m really thankful we went in before we absolutely needed to.
We made it to the hospital around 5am and met our doula in the circle drive. We decided to go ahead and get checked in. Checking in was another piece that was so different this time around. We would walk in between contractions and pause during them so I could focus on my breathing. Our doula Amanda, helped coach me through each one, and would gently touch me to help keep me calm. She knew exactly how, when and at what frequency and pressure to touch me. It was very obvious she had done this many times before.
The triage process was calm – not rushed at all. I was able to communicate with the nurses and fully remember it this time. I had a cervical check at 6am and was 5 centimeters dilated and 50% effaced and 0 station. The exam was very uncomfortable. I wasn’t too discouraged with these numbers since my pain was still manageable, but tried to brace myself knowing there was still quite a ways to go. I was still talking in between contractions at this point.
We moved to labor and delivery around 7am and I was checked again. At this point I was 7 centimeters dilated, 50% effaced and 0 station. I started to get a bit concerned that I was not effacing (which usually happens first) and Jacob was not moving down. The contractions also started to stall a bit. Some were still 5-6 minutes apart, but some of them had even more space between. Honestly, the breaks in between contractions were kind of nice, but I was also starting to get more fatigued at this point.
I labored on the birthing ball leaning over the bed a lot (the most comfortable position for me), standing up holding onto Marcus, on my knees leaning over the back of the bed (which was lifted up), and laying on each of my sides. I had been contracting since 11pm, and been in true, active labor since about 4am. I knew we needed to do something different to move things along.
This is where our doula really stepped up. She knew something was not quite right, and figured it had to do with the baby’s positioning. Her hypothesis was that the baby was compound position, meaning one of his hands was up by his face. Around 8am we did something called standing lift and tucks to try and pull the baby up out of the birth canal so he could come back down into a better position. Amanda stood behind me with her arms around the bottom of my belly. During each contraction she would pull in and up on my belly to try and help him reposition. It was the most painful thing I had felt up to this point during the labor, and we did it multiple times.
Once we felt he was positioned better, he needed to start moving down. I was standing face to face with Marcus putting most of my weight on him. Amanda also had me lift one leg to the side in different positions during each contractions to allow Jacob to move further down. This brought the intensity level up ten fold during each contraction. Only being able to stand on one very tired, shaky leg was exhausting. I was so tired, and it hurt so much. I swear Marcus was completely holding me up during these. This was when I really started to lose my stamina, and honestly some of my confidence. Adeline’s birth was faster (and although more stressful from start to finish), easier physically. I thought the second time was supposed to be easier, and this was when I realized it wasn’t going to be the case.
At this point my heart rate started dropping but it always recovered, so there was no concern at this point.
The Face I Wanted to See
Around 8:30am my favorite midwife in the practice came on call. I was so happy to see her. I was fairly certain I would get to deliver with her at this point and that alone gave me a small boost of energy. The first thing she did was tell me I was doing great and the baby looked good. She then took off the tight monitor around my belly, which I was so thankful for. We did intermittent monitoring and put it back on closer to the end, but it was nice to have it off for a bit.
I had another cervical check at 9:20am. These were still really painful. I was between 8-9 centimeters dilated, 100% effaced (so we made major process in this area) and +1 station. He was finally starting to move down. I still had a tight cervical lip (this is when part of the cervix has yet to move out of the way). At this point my midwife suggested getting in the shower for the second time. I told her I didn’t want to the first time she suggested it, but this time I obliged.
Turns out my midwife suggested the shower for multiple reasons. Changing positions can help add or relieve pressure from different parts of the cervix encouraging it to move. The hot water from the shower can promote relaxation also encouraging the body to open up. And I found out later it is also just a stalling tactic to give me something else to focus on while my body did the work it needed to before pushing.
Standing in the shower was tough. Marcus was right outside the tub holding my arm for support, but I mostly had to stand on my own. Just standing up straight was excruciating at this point. I hadn’t cried up to this point, but I looked into Marcus’ eyes, and said “I’m so, so tired”. Water welled up in his eyes too and he just said, “I know sweetie. You are doing great.” He continued to encourage me, as he had been constantly since 11pm the night before.
About 30-40 minutes later, while standing in the shower, I started to feel a lot of downward pressure. I remembered this feeling with Adeline, so I figured pushing was right around the corner. I got out of the shower and had my final cervical check. The cervical lip was gone! The time in the shower had done its job and we were ready to push.
The Big Push
The first pushing position we tried was me on the hospital bed on my knees facing the back (which was lifted up into a seated position). I had my right leg lifted to the side and on one of my first few pushes, my water broke. With Adeline they had to break my water right before I pushed, but this time I had that movie moment with the big gush of water. It sounded like someone dumped out a bucket of water, and it felt pretty wild too. The amniotic fluid was clear, meaning no meconium in the water. Since we had meconium (baby’s first stool) in the water for Adeline, I was relieved to hear this wasn’t a concern this time around.
After that I turned over onto my back to continue pushing. Jacob’s heart tones started to drop, so they had me rolling from my left, to my back, to my right to try and get them to come back up. They put me on oxygen in between contractions to try and get his heart rate to return. This happened with Adeline when I was pushing, so I knew there was something going on that shouldn’t have been. I give so much credit to my birth team, though, because they remained calm the entire time. My midwife kept ensuring me that my baby was fine, but it was time for him to come out. I was still fairly calm at this point.
Maybe because the room was calmer this time around, I was much more aware of the pushing process and how everything felt (with Adeline it was all a blur because I was so scared). The “ring of fire” is real. Once he started to crown, my midwife had me reach down and feel his head. It was a crazy feeling! We were really trying for me not to tear, so during the contraction she would say “push, push, push”, then “stop, stop, stop” to try and let the skin stretch slowly. It was very confusing, and exhausting, but I really appreciate her trying to help me not tear. Unfortunately we were not successful on that front.
After a few minutes of the stop and go pushing, Jacob’s heart rate was still lower than she would have liked. She told me it was time to get him out. So on the next couple contractions I gave it everything I had. Every ounce of energy I had left went into each contraction. And when each one wasn’t the last one, I didn’t know how I would do it again. But each time I somehow mustered up one more push.
And finally at 10:25am, I pushed his head out. Another contraction and I got his body out. What was so special with Jacob’s birth was I could see it all happening. I was able to lift my head while pushing and actually watch his little body enter the earth. I felt so close to the whole process. So connected to my baby. And so connected to my husband. We made this little miracle together.
Our Baby Boy
Jacob Adam was immediately mine, and I was immediately in love. He was on my chest only seconds after his first breath, and no one tried to move him for well over an hour. He nursed for the first time during this special time.
I was on top of the world. It was a natural high. Pure joy. Happy exhaustion. Relief. Overwhelming love. He was here, and he was healthy. I was proud of my mind and body and so very, very happy.
They did all his monitoring and checks with him right there on my chest. He was 7 pounds 15 ounces and 20 inches long. His apgar scores were all good. We were able to do delayed cord clamping. Marcus cut it once all the cord blood had made it into Jacob, and it was completely white.
According to our doula, it was only 10-15 minutes of pushing. I would have sworn it was 45. We realized once he was out that the reason his heart rate was dropping was because he had a short umbilical cord, just like Adeline. I shared that Adeline’s was short during my pregnancy as a warning to the midwives. They said it was an anomaly, and that there was no reason for it to happen again. So it was kind of crazy for Jacob to have a short cord too.
My placenta delivered fine, within 15 minutes of the birth. I honestly didn’t even feel it come out. The stitching of my tears was pretty rough, even with the lidocaine. I think my body was just so done at this point. My new, sweet baby on my chest though was probably the best distraction I could have asked for though.
Jacob’s Birth In Reflection
Looking back I am confident that God was there in our delivery room, watching over my little family and my birth team as we brought Jacob into the world. I could feel his peace and know that it was only through him that I had the mental and physical strength needed to give birth to Jacob.
I am so thankful for Marcus, who was an amazing partner through my entire pregnancy and birth. He made it to almost all of my prenatal appointments, was an avid note taker and really played an active role in everything. This meant so much to me. I love you, Marcus.
The midwives at my practice were incredible throughout my prenatal care and especially during delivery. Having a doula was worth every penny in our opinion. She was extremely knowledgable and gave me so much confidence going into the birth. I’m so thankful we had her by our side.
I also want to say thank you to everyone who has prayed for or loved on Jacob and our family in any way over the past year. We appreciate it all, and are so very lucky to have such a wonderful community of people surrounding us. I promised it doesn’t go unnoticed, and please know we love you right back!
Thanks for taking the time to read Jacob’s birth story. You can read Adeline’s birth story too, if you are interested!
Shannon Balser says
Loved reading this!! So special that you took time to write everything down and reflect on this miracle!
Thanks, Shannon! I’m so happy I finally sat down and made it happen!