Birth Story: Cameron James Jahraus

7:45:00 PM

The party started on Thursday, August 17th 2017.   I was 38 weeks and 1 day pregnant with our little boy.  Up until this point in the pregnancy I had been cautioned by our OB that our baby boy was measuring big.  With my goal of having an "all natural" unmedicated birth I had spent the last few weeks doing everything I could to "prime" my body for labor... evening primrose oil capsules, red raspberry leaf tea capsules, miles of walking, bouncing on our yoga ball, using the breast pump, and more.  I felt these tactics working slowly but surely with an increasing number of signs that labor was just around the corner.   

And on Thursday, August 17th we turned that corner.  At my 38 week appointment my doctor "stripped my membranes."  I won't explain that.  That evening my husband and I walked 2 miles and then used the breast pump for 15 minutes to see if it would stimulate contractions.  It sure did! Wes started timing them and they were about 30 seconds long and 5 minutes apart.  I thought we were definitely going to the hospital that night.  I was wrong.

The contractions spaced out and the next morning we went about our normal routine.  I was slightly discouraged, but I stayed busy that day working ahead on Begonia Rose Co. orders. Throughout the day I continued to have pre-labor signs. When Wes got home from work we did a post office run and got McDonald's ice cream cones. We went for a 1 mile walk that evening and contractions started on the walk.  When we got back from our walk I used the breast pump for 10 minutes and BOOM... game over.  The contractions were here to stay.  

We started timing them and they grew stronger and stronger, increasing to a length of 30-45 seconds every 2-3 minutes. Yikes. Wes convinced me that we should probably message our dog sitter and drop Bentley off.  Wes left with Bentley while I showered, got dressed, and took a final photo of the belly (see below).  When Wes arrived home 20 minutes later I was on the floor of the bathroom crouched over in the fetal position.   It was time to go to the hospital.  

On the way to the hospital I texted our Bradley Method (natural childbirth) instructor, Ashley, to give her an update.  Ashley so generously offered to come to the hospital to act as doula-like support during our labor.  What a saint! Once at the hospital they sent us up to the triage floor.  In the waiting room I was breathing deeply through contractions, still 2-3 minutes apart, and suddenly it felt like a hot water balloon exploded in my pants.  How lovely.  My water broke.  We were quickly admitted at 8:35pm.  When they checked me I was 4 cm.  Ugh.  I was hoping for like 6-7 cm.  It was going to be a long night.

Pretty soon a nurse from Labor & Delivery came down to get us.  She wasn't the nicest, but maybe she was just having a long day. After taking 3 tries to get my IV started she left us alone in our room. Our Bradley Method instructor, Ashley, arrived around 10:30pm. Ashley had this awesome calming presence about her and we really appreciated her being there.  We spent the next 4 hours of labor alternating between 20 minutes side-lying in the bed for monitoring and 40 minutes sitting and bouncing on a yoga ball next to the bed.  Contractions spaced out to 4-5 minutes apart, but they also lengthened, some lasting as long as 2 minutes (yep that hurt like hell). At the 1 am check I was at 6 cm.... decent progress.

For the next 4 hours until 5am we kept up the same routine.. switching between side-lying and sitting on the yoga ball. But now the contractions, although stronger, had spaced out to 5-6+ minutes apart.  Darn.  When 5 am rolled around I had only progressed another 0.5 cm in 4 hours... I felt like a total failure.

Our nurse said they would like me to get started on Pitocin, a drug that would increase the strength and frequency of contractions.   She said that we were closing in on the time where I would be 12 hours from the time that my water broke and that they couldn't let me go much past that due to risk of infection to the baby.  I really really didn't want Pitocin.  I had heard about Pitocin contractions being much more intense and painful than normal contractions. I knew that I probably wouldn't be able to have an "unmedicated" natural birth with Pitocin.   We asked for alternatives and our nurse said if we didn't do Pitocin we might be looking at a c-section.... not the alternative I was hoping for. 

At that point it was 6am, Ashley went home, and we had to make the decision.  I was absolutely exhausted. I vividly remember laying in that hospital bed looking at Wes and wanting him to make the decision for me.  In the meantime the nurse had us switch to full-time monitoring since they noticed baby's heart rate would dip and not return to baseline after contractions.  Wes and I talked and decided we should do the Pitocin and have an IV pain medication, Fentanyl, on standby just in case.

At 7am there was a shift change and we got a new nurse named Tricia.  She was an angel, the most positive, compassionate nurse we could have asked for.  At this point things started to get a little fuzzy for me.  They started me on Pitocin and the contractions became unreal.  They felt like they happened every 15 seconds.  I quickly asked for Fentanyl.  Honestly, the Fentanyl might as well have been a few shots of vodka or something because it made me feel tipsy but it didn't help with the pain.

I started to feel panicked and unable to catch my breath.  I couldn't imagine surviving potentially hours of these Pitocin contractions.  At 9 am I threw our Bradley Method plan out the window and begged for an epidural. Yep, I caved. The next thing I knew I was sitting on the edge of the bed holding onto Wes and Tricia while the anesthesiologist inserted the giant needle into my spine. Within minutes I had relief.  Thank God.  It was a total Bradley Method fail, but I think we made the right decision.

I must have dozed out for a bit because the next thing I knew I opened my eyes and our nurse said I was at 10cm.  She said I was ready to push and she called my OB to have her come in. Pretty suddenly our room started filling up with people.  First there was one nurse, then two, then three.  Then the doctors started coming in, one at a time.  Everyone was staring at the monitor.  They explained that baby's oxygen levels were getting low.  They put an oxygen mask on me and had me flipping from side to side, trying different things to help him.  I was terrified, yet comforted in knowing we were in the right place with the right people.

About 15 minutes later my OB rushed into the room and they immediately had me start pushing.  While I was pushing my OB yelled at me to take deeper breaths to get baby more oxygen. Her frantic yelling really freaked me out.  I pushed with 3 contractions and then he was out!  They put him on my chest. The cord was wrapped once around his neck and he was kind of blue and quiet.  I asked the doctor repeatedly if he was okay.  She said he was okay and soon he started crying.  I vividly remember watching Wes's face as he stood over me with his hands comforting me and our son.  I'll never forget the look on his face. We were a family.  I couldn't believe this baby was ours to keep.

Baby Cameron's first 48 hours were pretty rough.  We stayed in the hospital two nights because he failed his first hearing test, his first jaundice test, and his first heart test.  On top of that he had respiratory distress with rapid breathing, flared nostrils and chest retractions combined with a blood oxygen levels just below the acceptable threshold.  He had to stay in the nursery overnight for monitoring and they said he would have to go into the NICU if it didn't improve overnight.  Luckily the next day he passed his hearing, jaundice and heart tests and his breathing and blood oxygen levels met the acceptable threshold.  I still insisted that we get an echocardiogram to make sure that his heart was okay. The echo came back clear and we were sent home with our precious baby, Cameron James Jahraus.

I cannot believe 1 month has passed already since Cameron's birth.  It's been both the longest and shortest month ever. I will be posting Cameron's 1 month update soon! For now below are some pictures from the start of labor through the first 48 hours.

Dylan, Wes, and Cameron 

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