It all started February 2nd at 1 am. Blake and I had been up late watching a movie and we finally settled into bed. About 15 minutes into sleeping I was woken up by what felt like period cramps. It lasted for about a minute or so then went away so I went back to sleep. Then I was woken up by another one about 7 minutes later that was a little more intense causing me to have to sit up. I finally woke up Blake and said “I think I might be in early labor..” So I started tracking my contractions. They were honestly all over the place but very close together and extremely uncomfortable. We decide to go into triage at 3 am to check it out. When the nurse checked me I was about 3 cm dilated. She sent me home since my contractions were a little too inconsistent and said “Well, it’s probably going to happen in the next couple of days!” Those words instantly made me anxious and excited all at the same time. I was so uncomfortable and ready for him to be out, but I loved being pregnant and had a sense of sadness him not being apart of my body anymore. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain! We go back to the house and try to get some sleep. Well, I didn’t sleep at all. The contractions were still keeping me up and seeming to get worse. I was texting a couple friends who had recently had babies and my friend Caitlin told me to download an app that you can track your contractions on which I started doing. My friend Nicole is a L&D nurse so I was blowing up her phone the entire time (haha sorry Nicole).
Blake had a T time that morning at 8:00. Because we didn’t think I was really progressing much (although I was still in pain) I told him to go ahead, and I wanted to run and get breakfast tacos for myself (my number 1 pregnancy craving). Blake left and about an hour in I realized I was in too much pain to go get breakfast tacos. My contractions became more painful and as I was recording them on my app I got a notification on it saying “Go ahead and get your hospital bag ready and prepare to head to hospital”. I started to get pretty emotional and decided I was pissed that Blake went to golf while I was having early labor. Even though I told him to go… that’s pregnancy hormones for you. He rushed home to my phone call but stopped and grabbed the breakfast tacos I wanted on the way home (bless him). Little did I know, that would be my last meal before having Rhett! When he got home we ate and started getting things together. At this point I was in SO much pain. I told him I was ready to go back to the hospital. I was curious why I was in so much pain. My contractions felt like they were taking over my whole body, not just my uterus. It was hard for me to even stand or walk! I pride myself in having a pretty high pain tolerance, but I had never gone through labor before so who knows. When we went back to the hospital we were in triage again and the nurse could tell I was having back labor. Which apparently makes labor SO much more painful… Lucky me. At this point I had progressed to 4 cm. The nurse called my doctor but warned me that she will either send me back home or we would find another way to help me progress. That is exactly what happened. She said I could either go back home OR they would have me walk around the L&D floor for 2 hours while drinking water to help me progress. My crazy self decided to walk. I was way too uncomfortable to go back home, and at this point I was ready to get him out. Blake walked with me holding my hand the entire time, stopping with me and rubbing my back when I would need to pause for a contraction. He was so helpful and involved throughout the entire process and I am so thankful he’s a hands on husband and Dad! Once we were done she checked me again and I was almost dilated to 5 cm so they decided to get me to my delivery room.
Before we got to the delivery room I was already asking for the epidural, haha. I’m telling you- back labor is NO JOKE. We settled me in to the delivery room and they hooked me up to all the things. I seriously didn’t realize how many cords were gonna be attached to me! They called for my anesthesiologist and I was trying to patiently wait while my contractions got more intense. When she came in to give me my epidural I was 7 cm dilated. When she finally got to me she seemed like she was rushed or in some sort of hurry. The epidural was a little scarier than I thought it would be but I think I was also feeding off of anesthesiologist’s energy… which wasn’t very comforting. Luckily my nurse was amazing and held my hand and kept my mind off it by asking me questions about Rhett! I remember feeling a sharp poke that didn’t seem right so I jumped a little after it happened. She cleaned up real fast and went on her way. I didn’t think much about it because I was just ready to relax. And wow was I relaxed after it fully kicked in! At this point I was exhausted not sleeping at all the night before and dealing with back labor all day. My nurse that I had all day was ending her shift and I was so sad because I loved her. I told her I didn’t want her to leave, but she assured me that my next nurse was awesome. She was so right! I was blessed by awesome nurses the entire time I was in the hospital. The Super Bowl was starting and Blake and I watched it while we waited for my cervix to dilate. My family showed up and they hung out and watched the rest of the game with us till it was time to prep for delivery. When the nurses decided it was time to get ready to start pushing my mom and dad said a prayer with Blake and I before they left. I asked them to pray with me because I started getting a little nervous. Then it was go time..
All of a sudden my doctor and a couple other nurses were there. Side note: the hospital I delivered at has delivery and postpartum recovery all in the same room. I thought this was weird at first but ended up LOVING it. They train their nurses super well since they do a little bit of everything in terms of delivery , postpartum care for you and baby and they are super hands on in helping with the baby. ANYWAYS, back to the good stuff. The doc ordered Blake to grab one of my legs while my main nurse grabbed the other. They had both of my legs in the stirrups while I was on my back. No one warned me that the position you assume while pushing feels completely barbaric, haha! I could tell Blake was nervous when she told him to hold on of my legs. His plan was to stay back by my head and not look. Honestly, I didn’t want him to look… I didn’t even want to see it, so why would I make him? I also thought that if we wanted to have more kids, I probably shouldn’t traumatize him, haha. I started pushing and at this point the epidural had really worn off. Which is what I wanted because I could actually feel how I needed to push. Many people asked if pushing him out hurt, and in my opinion I didn’t. Just a lot of pressure! Blake and my nurse were amazing (on each side of my legs) at being super encouraging and motivating. Blake did say he peeked and saw a little part of when the head was coming (he said he saw Rhett’s hair) and turned back to me to let me know he was coming and didn’t look back after that. I had been pushing for about 40 minutes when I saw that I had 5 minutes till midnight… My goal was for him to come on February 2nd, making his birth date 02/02/2020 (palindrome birthday) and it was about to be the 3rd! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t peeking at the clock the whole time I was pushing. When I saw I had 5 minutes to get him out I gave it my all and he was out in 2 minutes! I pushed for a total of 45 minutes. He was born at 11:57 pm on the 2nd, at 8 lb. 1 oz.
I can’t explain the feeling when he came out and they put him on my chest. I was speechless and a rush of adrenaline came over me. Blake kept saying “omg Rachel this is our baby” in complete awe. I just remember seeing allllll that hair! The doc started getting ready to stitch me up. Blake said the first words out of my mouth after he was born was when I looked at my doctor and asked “So, what’s the damage?” haha. She assured me everything was fine and that I had about a 2nd degree tear. We had about an hour of bonding time with him then we had all of our family come in. I requested Whataburger, so my brother Aaron and his girlfriend Katelyn went to get me a big cheese burger. That was the first thing I wanted after I did all that work. Our family members took turns holding him and hung out for a little while before it was finally time for us to get some sleep (which my nurse encouraged). Everything at this point became a blur because I was SO tired. I even fell asleep when Blake’s parents were in the room after my family had left. At this point I hadn’t even gotten out of bed, but I needed sleep. Next thing I know I was woken up by my nurse saying I should probably try using the rest room. I noticed I had a slight headache. She helped me sit up and all of a sudden my slight headache turned into the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. Every time I sat up straight my head would hurt so bad I felt like I was going to black out. But when I laid on my back I felt relief. They said that this headache was most likely caused by the epidural, gave me some heavy pain meds, and said that they would have an anesthesiologist come in the morning to check on my symptoms. But I still had to pee… So they brought out a BED PAN haha! I felt like a freaking geriatric. Sorry if this is TMI but thank God I didn’t have to poop.
The next morning I woke up still feeling a slight headache. The anesthesiologist came in bright and early. It wasn’t the one who gave me my epidural but I wish he was the one who had given it to me. He was SO nice. He said I was experiencing a spinal headache which can be a side effect from the epidural if they poke you a little too deep which can cause spinal fluid to leak, causing a headache. He said a lot of times it will pass and is ironically relieved by a mix of pain meds and caffeine. If that doesn’t work we would have to do a spinal tap and I would have to get another epidural to fix the block. I told him we would see what the meds and caffeine does first. I took my meds and he got me a grande vanilla latte from the Starbucks downstairs. This made me feel SO much better and I decided that I didn’t need the spinal tap. We had lots of family and visitors come to the hospital which we loved. We are very close with our family/friends and loved that they could spend time with us welcoming Rhett into the world. It was also nice because we never had to eat hospital food since we always had someone bringing us food! These days in the hospital were so nice because every single nurse we had was amazing and there to help us with everything. One of them taught Blake how to become a master swaddler! But at night, I would still get a headache, having to cure it with meds and a latte the next morning.
When it was time to go home it was a bittersweet moment. Sweet because we were so ready to bring our baby home and I was so excited to sleep in my own bed. Bitter because I was like holy hell how are we going to care for this little being on our own?! Haha, it’s a little nerve racking. Blake’s parents live out of state, and they were staying at our house taking care of our dogs while we were in the hospital. My mother and father in law are so sweet and cleaned our house and had everything ready for us when we came home. The second I got home, I hung out for a bit with Rthett and our family, then decided to take a nap. I woke up from my nap around dinner time… with a massive headache. Worse than it had ever been! I couldn’t even sit up, feed Rhett, or change his diaper. I honestly felt so helpless, and guilty that I couldn’t even take care of my baby. I had Blake make me some coffee in hopes that it would help, and it didn’t at all. At this point I was super emotional crying big tears. Blake and I decided to go to the emergency room, leaving Rhett with my in laws. I wanted to bring him with us but we were advised to not bring him due to all the germs and it being flu season. It’s not that I didn’t trust my in laws, I just wasn’t expecting that to be the first time we had to leave him only a few days old. Luckily our friends Jordan and Erica stepped up and helped by bringing over some of Erica’s frozen breast milk for Rhett while I was in the ER. I was in the ER from 11:00 that evening to 4:00 in the morning. We waited for an anesthesiologist to get there, and I ended up getting the spinal tap. She drew blood from my arm and gave me another epidural, filling the hole where the other anesthesiologist went to deep, and filled it with my blood. I had INSTANT relief the second she filled it. Also, it didn’t hurt at all. Making me remember when I got my first epidural, the pain I felt when she poked me too deep. We finally went home and I was able to finally enjoy having Rhett with us at our house. My in laws left the next afternoon. Blake and I wanted to try to do the nights on our own specially since he was off for 2 weeks. But because I was a little traumatized and exhausted from everything, I just wanted my mom. So my mom drove up and stayed the night with us that night to help. All I remember is her coming in the morning after she stayed, taking Rhett at about 7 am so Blake and I could sleep in. We slept till 10:30 and I felt like I had slept 10 hours. It was so nice! My mom went home that afternoon, and we have done everything ourselves ever since! Blake really wanted us to try and do it on our own, and I’m so glad we did. We had a lot funny/crazy moments during those couple weeks- getting peed on, giving his first bath and us freaking out about it, late nights, and tons of baby snuggles. There would be times that we would just look at each other and laugh thinking… is this really our lives right now?!
Overall, I had a really good experience minus the back labor and epidural mishap. I healed very quickly and was told that my doctor sewed me up perfectly! I was clear to workout, and do whatever at 4 1/2 weeks. Giving birth is a wild experience, and it’s amazing that God designed our bodies to grow a human. Even though there is pain and fear involved when going into labor, the feeling once your baby is in your arms is 100% worth whatever experience you may have.