I am SO excited to share this birth story with you all today!!! Pull up a chair, and a cup of coffee and some tissues…you will need all of the above as you read through this story!
A couple disclaimers:
As usual, this is a birth story. It contains bodily functions that might make you feel queasy. Skip this post if you feel grossed out by birth-related bodily functions and terms (placenta, throw up, dilation, pushing, etc).
A second disclaimer: This birth story is a story of incredible determination and hard work (spoiler alert: 58 hours of labor). If you are expecting your first child and have a lot of fears about labor/delivery, this might be a story for after you have given birth. It’s a doozy! But I’ll stop talking and just let you get to the story!!!
First…a little back story. I know Jess through our husbands. Collin was Theo’s RA all three years he was at Cedarville. They built a great friendship and I feel like they truly practiced iron sharpening iron. Collin was a groomsmen in our wedding, and we are fortunate enough to live fairly close to them. We need to be more intentional about getting together more often!
Theo and Collin at our wedding:
Theo and Collin, just three years later, with their daughters:
58 hours of labor. 5 days in the hospital. 7 rotations of nurses. 3 sets of midwives. 5 family members waiting at the hospital. One indescribably supportive husband. One beautiful baby girl. All of it was worth the wait for God’s precious gift to us!
My due date of April 6, 2015 came and went. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little sad when I woke up that morning and our little girl had not come yet. My husband, Collin, and I (and our midwife) thought for sure our baby would come early. God always has His own plan though…like usual, God was using this experience to show me that I am not in control. I am so thankful for the week before Kiley came, though. Collin was on Spring Break from teaching so we got to hang out all week together. I originally envisioned us hanging out that week with a newborn, but having it just “us” was a blessing.
As we went to bed on Sunday, April 12, I said, “Collin, I really wish you didn’t have to go back to school tomorrow.” “Well, babe, maybe you will go into labor tonight and I won’t have to.” Famous last words.
Day 1: Monday
At 2:40AM on April 13, I was 41 weeks pregnant and quickly woke up feeling water coming out of me. I rushed to the bathroom… I ran out to Collin who was sleeping, grabbed his arm, and said, “Collin!!! I think my water broke! Come see!” We both agreed it had broken. Since I wasn’t having contractions, we tried to go back to sleep. At 4:40AM, more water gushed out. Due to the amount this time, I decided to finally call our midwife. Since I was still not yet having contractions, she suggested sleeping and calling again when we wake up in the morning.
Sleep? Like I could sleep! My mind was racing as I couldn’t believe our daughter was finally coming. Thoughts such as: What was birth going to be like? How long will it take? When should we leave? Will we have a room at Family Beginnings (an area in the hospital designed for natural births)? I attempted to sleep, but still did not get much. I had a few contractions here and there, but nothing that lasted too long or any close together. I was just too excited! Looking back, I wish I would have slept more.
When I finally woke up around 8AM I decided I was going to shower. Showering was one thing I decided a long time ago I wanted to do before going to the hospital. I love showers and they always make me feel awake and ready to go. After showering and eating breakfast, I decided to call the midwife again. The midwife said I could come in if I wanted, but since I still was not having intense contractions I could wait it out at home. The only thing I had to do was be in the hospital before the 24 hour mark of when my water broke. I definitely did not want to go to the hospital at 2AM, but I felt it was too soon to go now so we decided to “wait it out” at home. Though I knew I was tired, I couldn’t take a nap because of the anticipation of what was coming. In the mean time, we played lots of cards, talked, I double checked our hospital bag, and I walked on the treadmill. I would have contractions every so often, followed by leaking amniotic fluid (which is pretty annoying), but again, nothing was too intense for me to NOT handle it yet. We decided it would be best to eat dinner before calling again to make sure I got a meal in. Collin’s brother was working a shift at La Rosa’s and he asked if he could bring us a pizza. I find it hilarious that I ate that before going to the hospital, but it was really good!
After we ate dinner, I called the hospital. Since it had already been over 15 hours since my water broke, they said I needed to come in. I called Family Beginnings to see if there was an open room. At this point, all rooms were now full, but they assured me that I would be able to get a room soon since one lady was going to be moving to the recovery unit. They told us that once we get to the hospital we were to go to triage as we wait for our room to be prepared and cleaned for us. Off to the hospital we went! The drive was so weird…I remember thinking, “Wow, next time we are in the car, we will be taking our little girl home with us!” We parked, grabbed our bags, and went down the elevator to the main entrance of the Berry Women’s Center at Miami Valley Hospital. There was another family in the elevator with us and Collin mentioned we were in labor. They laughed and then realized we were serious! “You don’t even seem stressed or rushed at all!” We weren’t. I felt a peace.
I must admit, we were not too impressed with the lady who checked us in. She acted as if she had just started working there and kept asking weird questions and taking forever to do her job. I was trying to be patient, but Collin definitely was starting to get mad. After 30 minutes, we finally headed up to triage at 8PM. When we arrived there, they hooked me up to a monitor to track our girl’s movements and to make sure both her and I were doing okay so far. After this positive check, they then had to check to see how dilated I was. Sadly, I was only 1cm…I was this same thing two weeks prior at my doctor visit. I was honestly surprised, but was hopeful that things would progress. Being checked was not the most enjoyable either…since I had been leaking fluid all day, as soon as the nurse checked me I gushed out water everywhere! It was a little embarrassing, but nothing they have never seen before. She got me the granny panties and huge pads to wear. I really didn’t care what I was wearing since I kept leaking out fluids. They told me to walk the hospital floors two hours then come back to be evaluated again.
So off we went! Two hours felt like a long time when we kept walking in circles through the birthing hallways. At this point we were in good spirits, though! We had a good time talking and I laughed at how I felt like my butt was huge with the lovely undies I was instructed to wear. After two hours, and a few contractions in between, we went back to triage. After getting the baby’s heart rate checked again, they told me to walk once more as they were still cleaning up our room. Off we went for another two hour walk! I was so thankful I was wearing yoga pants, t-shirt, and sneakers. Walking four hours until midnight was tough to do at 41 weeks pregnant!
After this walk, they told us they were ready for us to transfer to our Family Beginnings room. I got checked once more and I was still only 1cm dilated. The nurse told us I was going to have to do nipple simulation with a breast pump for 15 minutes, walk 45 minutes, and then repeat. The point of this was to help contractions come quicker. I quickly learned there was no more modesty or dignity for me…there I was, chest fully exposed with a double breast pump hooked up as nurses walked in and out. We did the pumping and walking rotation for 3 hours. I did have some contractions, but not many close together by any means. Once 3AM hit, I was exhausted. I already walked for 6 hours and now it was past the 24 hour mark of when my water broke. With only a few hours of sleep the night before, I needed to rest.
Day 2: Tuesday
The nurse said we could rest for awhile. We both tried to sleep…again, I was pretty uncomfortable at this point so I didn’t get to sleep too much as a contraction would wake me up every so often. After “resting” for 2 hours, and checking the baby’s heart rate, we started the pumping/walking cycle again. This time we ventured out into another part of the hospital since we were completely bored of the other part we walked prior. We ordered breakfast and we got breakfast burritos! Our food came, we ate, and off to walking again. As we were walking, I was getting contractions and Collin kept recording how close they were together. This helped him feel connected and a part of the labor as we walked many hours together. Not only this, but he was beginning to be a little concerned and wondered why things were progressing so slowly. He never left my side, though, and whatever I was doing, he did too! I was very thankful that he was there with me. As we were coming back around during our walk to where our room was, I started to feel really sick. I told Collin I thought I was going to throw up…He encouraged me to see if we could make it back to our room. I knew I couldn’t…thankfully there was a bathroom close to us. I barely made it in there before my entire breakfast came back up. I felt much better after that!
We went back to the room and they checked the baby’s heart rate and checked my dilation again around 10AM. I was only 2cm dilated. I only progressed 1cm in the 15 hours we were at the hospital. I was discouraged. The midwife wanted us to move to the maternity unit to begin medicine to induce labor. I didn’t want to go yet. Though I was tired from walking so much, I still could handle the contractions and I really wanted to do natural birth. The nurse at Family Beginnings felt we could do this naturally and was on our side. She was brainstorming what we could do next. She suggested a Foley bulb. Foley bulb? What is that?! It is a small balloon tube they have to insert into your cervix that slowly inflates over time to help dilate you and cause you to have stronger contractions. It will eventually fall out when you reach 3 or 4cm dilated. Though this did not sound enjoyable, we really didn’t see another option at the moment since other natural remedies weren’t working for me. The midwife on call said she would do it. Up they went…that was SO painful! She had a hard time putting it in my cervix so she attempted to put it in a few times, but eventually got it in there. I bled a lot from that too…it was not an enjoyable experience. Since the tube is in your cervix and then hangs down, they have to tape it to your leg. This was pretty uncomfortable and I was afraid I was going to pull it out, but they assured me I would be okay. They asked us to walk again and that contractions should start to intensify.
More walking…joy! This time we decided to walk to another part of the hospital. Collin grabbed his paper and pen to record contraction times. We walked for 90 minutes. Oh my…the contractions definitely started coming! I had to pause many times as we were walking and wait for them to pass. I had pretty bad back pain the past two weeks prior. Our daughter was turned face up, but then turned the right direction for our last doctor’s appointment. We did not realize this at the time, but she had moved to the face up position again at the hospital which is why I was having a lot of pain in my back. Every contraction I felt was in my back.
We went back to our room for them to check our baby’s heart rate. As I sat on the bed for awhile, I heard a huge “POP!” Collin had the nurse come in and told her what happened. She didn’t know what happened…as she checked my Foley bulb she realized it had completely popped which was something she never heard of before. She then had to take the tape off my leg…I told her to just pull it quick to get it over with. I had the biggest red mark! I forgot I have allergic reactions to tape. So that looked great on my upper thigh the rest of labor…
Since it had been awhile since my last check, the nurse decided to check me again at 11:50AM. I was 4cm now! Progress at least. She was hopeful for us. For the next few hours we were either in the room or walking around the hospital trying to increase the contractions. I started feeling sick though…when I was getting my hourly check, the nurse noticed that my temperature started rising and our baby’s heart rate was rising. These are all signs of possible infection. They told me that I needed to be put on antibiotics. Since it had been over 24 hours since I last showered, I really wanted to shower.
I LOVED that shower. When the contractions came, I could have the faucet hit my back and it eased the pain so much. I didn’t know if I wanted a water birth, but after feeling how good the water was during contractions, I told Collin, “When it comes time to push, I am DEFINITELY getting in the water!!!!” As soon as I turned off the water, the nurse came back in and said I had to get medication right then. I didn’t even have a chance to put on clothes, dry my hair, or anything.
It was now 4PM, 38 hours in. There I was in a rocking chair, towel on my head and wearing a bathrobe. The nurse brought in medication and said I was going to get an IV to administer it to me. I told her that I have weird veins and often people struggle with giving me IVs. She assured me she had done this many times and she was confident we would be fine…nope! She tried 3 times and still couldn’t get it. She then felt awful…She said she had to put it in the opposite hand now (my right hand). She finally got it. I hated sitting in that chair with an IV in and trying to deal with contractions. The pain was definitely starting to intensify at this point, but I couldn’t move. My back was literally killing me. We ordered lunch. I had medication administered to me for a few hours. As I sat there, I let Collin blow dry my hair. That was hilarious since he had never done that before. I finally got dressed. I tried lying on the bed, sitting on a medicine ball, walking, having Collin massaged my back…nothing was easing the pain. Honestly, any time he touched me I felt more pain. I felt bad for him because all he wanted to do was help, but I just didn’t want to be touched.
At around 5PM, I had to be checked again. I was 5cm…only half way there. The midwife told me it was time to switch units. I was so upset. Collin asked if we could have a minute to ourselves. As soon as the nurse and midwife left, I completely broke down. I was in such pain at this point and thinking I was only half way there completely broke me. I was so disappointed that I had to leave this room. I knew that I can’t control everything and there was always a chance I would have to move units, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen to me unless it was an emergency. I told Collin I really didn’t want to move rooms because I was afraid of how expensive everything would be. He assured me it was going to be okay and that we could move. Through tears, I consented. Collin asked the nurse if we could order dinner and rest a little before transferring. She was okay with this. As we waited for dinner to arrive I tried to rest. We packed up our things as we ate dinner and then off to maternity we went. I did not know how thankful I would be for that meal until later…once you start pitocin you are not allowed to eat (I was not told this beforehand, but I am pretty sure that’s why they let me eat dinner).
At 6:30PM, we started to go to our new location. Since I wanted to do water therapy for contractions, they picked a room they could fill up an inflatable tub for us. We got to the new room, the nurse asked lots of questions, and hooked up the heart rate monitors to me. Right when things started, I looked over at the shower and noticed there was a sign that said “broken.” “Collin, how are they going to fill up the tub if the shower doesn’t even work?” We called in the nurse, told her the situation, and then she said we needed to move rooms. Off we go to the room next door! They decided to set up the inflatable tub before we moved rooms, though. At 7:30PM, we got to that room and pitocin had now begun. They said to let them know when I feel like I can’t take the contractions anymore and then they would start filling the tub since it takes awhile. It did NOT take long before the contractions really started to pick up….REALLY QUICKLY…and really intensely.
As curious as I am, I had the nurse turn the monitor toward me so I could watch the contractions on the screen. In no time, I had contractions every minute and some that lasted two minutes each. Again, I felt each of these in my lower back…it was awful. At 9PM, I decided the pain was really getting hard to handle and that I wanted to tub to be filled so I could get some relief. The nurses came in to fill the tub…they had to hook up a hose to the shower head then stretch it out to the inflatable tub to fill it. They couldn’t figure out how to hook it up to the shower head. There ended up being five nurses in there to figure this thing out. I was starting to get impatient as I was in pain and Collin was getting very frustrated at their incompetence, to say it nicely. 90 minutes later they finally got the tub filled…I was in so much pain at this point. My back felt like it was being ripped out.
Once the tub was full, the midwife helped me into the tub. Unfortunately, I was past the point of pain relief. Though the water felt great at Family Beginnings, now, several hours later, it did nothing. I tried squatting, I tried sitting, I tried moving around…no position felt good or helped the pain. The midwife tried to be helpful by encouraging me through each contraction. The most annoying part was that I had to keep my right hand out of the water because of the pitocin hooked into it. This made positioning really difficult. I wanted to punch this midwife in the face when she kindly said, “Get through this contraction. You can do this.” Yeah, lady, I have been at this for many hours…you are not helping. Honestly, though, she was the nurse I needed by my side during this time.
Around midnight, I finally decided to get out of the tub because the pain was too intense and the water really wasn’t helping. The midwife told me she wanted to try moving the baby into the right position. This would require her pushing her hand on my lower back between contractions and me moving in awkward positions as she pushed. After a few hard pushes on my back during contractions, I lost it. That hurt SO bad and I forcefully told her she was done. I stayed on the bed to endure contractions for another few hours. I did NOT want to be touched.
Day 3: Wednesday
At 2AM, the midwife had to check me again. She said nothing when I was checked…We could tell by the look on her face that it was not good. “What am I?!” I was only a 6…I felt so defeated. I physically did not feel I could go any longer at this point and I was only a 6 (after nearly 48 hours of labor) and being on pitocin for 7 hours!!! It took me six hours to move 1cm…at this rate, it would take 24 more hours of pitocin to get me to a 10 and I knew I didn’t have enough in me to wait that long. She looked at us and told us that she was medically required to tell us that we had two options now; we could either get an epidural, which she suggested, or get a c-section (she did not advise this and said it would be better for me and future pregnancies if I avoided this).
Collin asked for space again. For the second time, I completely broke down. I told Collin, even though our baby was constantly monitored, I wanted her out!! I said, “We are doing a c-section….I can’t do this anymore. It needs to be done, I don’t care anymore and I need to know our girl is okay.” Through several minutes of talking things through, Collin kindly asked for me to try the epidural. He later said this was the hardest thing he ever had to do because he was basically asking me to go through more pain. I was so mad at him…I didn’t want to do an epidural! Of all things, that was ONE thing I did NOT want to do. Collin and I continued to talk through it, and Collin kept reminding me that future births would be easier and recovery would be faster if we delivered vaginally as opposed to doing a c-section. He said “let’s try the epidural, and if that doesn’t work then we can do a c-section.” As much as I wanted this experience to be over NOW, I finally agreed to try an epidural. Collin later told me that at this point he was so scared because he felt that if some sort of intervention didn’t happen soon, I was not going to make it. He said the pain in my eyes was something he never saw before and he knew I had reached my physical breaking point…and didn’t know if I would have the strength left to make it to the end.
At 2:15AM we told the nurse I would get an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in, gave us instructions, and gave me the epidural at 2:35AM-48 hours in. Honestly, having a six inch needle jabbed into my spine was NOTHING compared to the hours of pain I have already experienced. He stayed in the room with me for awhile to ensure that the medicine was affecting me how it should. Once I could not feel contractions anymore, he left. This was a great time for both Collin and I…we were so exhausted since we had been up for so long. The epidural now meant we both could rest. Collin was COMPLETELY out! I kept going in and out of sleep as the nurse came in to check on me and move me from side to side to make sure the medicine didn’t take effect to only one side of my body.
At 5:30AM, they came in to check me again. I was now 9.5cm! Wow! I was so close! This gave me hope…our daughter is finally going to be here soon! They told me to keep resting and that they would be back in two hours. If I felt the need to push then I was told to call them. The need to push? How would I know? They said I would know. Over the next couple hours I started to get nervous because I could feel pain in the left side of my back during contractions again. I began to freak out because I did NOT want to feel that after already feeling it for 24 hours before the epidural. I finally felt like I needed to push and we called in the nurse and midwife. When they checked me again at 7:30AM, they could feel our daughter’s head. “Ready to push?!” Push!!! I was not expecting to ever hear that…no time to wake up, no time to mentally prepare, just GO! “Okay! Let’s do this!” They said it should only take maybe max two hours to get her out. I was so excited!!!
I began pushing at 7:30AM. Because the epidural was fading and I could feel all contractions on my left side, I knew when I had to push. We would wait for a contraction, one nurse would hold one leg, Collin would hold the other, and they would pull my legs back at the same time and I would push for three 10 second intervals with each contraction. We did this over and over through many sets of contractions. Eventually, they said, “Your daughter has dark hair!” I was getting excited because we were making progress. However, I had a really hard time pushing. Because I did not have control over my legs from having an epidural I couldn’t figure out how to push correctly and kept pushing with my face. They tried many things to get me to focus on pushing correctly. We tried tug of war, where they had a sheet that I held on one end and the nurse held the other…we would both pull during a pushing session. We tried moving to the end of the bed and pushing in the stirrups. Nothing was helping her come out further. I had such a bad headache at one point; they had to give me medication. After pushing for almost 5 hours, I was exhausted. Our daughter had also had a bowel movement by this point and she needed to come out to avoid infection.
Around noon on Wednesday the midwife asked how I felt about suction. She said it was time to move things along and this was the last resort before c-section. I broke down for the third time. I didn’t understand why this was taking so long and why I couldn’t get her out! I also was so mad because if we had to do a c-section, this could have been done 6 hours ago! We decided to try this last step. The doctor on call was at another hospital and would arrive in 20 minutes. They told me I could rest in between contractions and wait to push for when the doctor came. I did my best to rest…
When the doctor came, he told me that I only had three pushes before I would have to get a c-section. I was determined she had to come out. He also said he was not going to be forceful because he did not want to hurt the baby or me…he would just have the vacuum to provide a little extra suction to help pull her out as I pushed, but it would ultimately have to be me doing most of the work. Because this labor was super long and our girl had “gone to the bathroom” in my uterus, they had to invite the NICU to come in just in case they had to get stuff out of her lungs. In total we had one midwife, two nurses, the doctor, me and Collin, and the NICU team in the birthing room.
So here we go…this was it. I had to find any strength I had left to finish this long process. At 12:20PM we decided to start with the suction. The doctor positioned the suction cup on Kiley’s head, the contraction came, and the cup slipped. “Don’t count that one…start over,” the doctor said. Take two. Cup back on, another contraction, nurse on one leg and Collin on the other, and push! We made some progress. We ended up pushing three times in one contraction, but still no baby. I thought we were done since they said three pushes. Nope! Keep going they told us.
Maybe they meant three sets of contractions with three pushes each? I didn’t care what the “rules” were at this point… I was just going to keep pushing and get her out! The head finally came out, I could feel myself ripping, but honestly did not care because I wanted this to be over and be able to hold my little girl. Another contraction came, another hard push, more of her was coming out. “Again!!” 1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10… “KEEP PUSHING!!!” Everyone yelled at this point for me to finish. Finally, after pushing with everything I had for about 30 seconds, with the last push and last contraction we were allowed before having to go to a c-section, at 12:43PM our daughter, Kiley Elizabeth Mitchell, was born!
Collin cut the cord, the doctor gave her to me, and I was in complete awe of her. I looked over at Collin who was crying and I couldn’t believe we finally made it here. I did not care at this point how many people were in the room, how I felt, the fact I knew the doctor would have to stitch me up, or anything else. All that mattered was that moment…the moment where Kiley was finally in my arms, she was safe, and as a family we could celebrate and thank God together that everyone was safe and healthy.
Next thing I heard as I was holding Kiley was the doctor saying, “Your placenta is not coming out. I am going to have to scrape it out.” Okay, that’s fine, I thought…I didn’t care what was going to happen to me at this point. As I was holding Kiley, I started feeling movement in my belly. I was so confused because she was out…what was going on? As I looked down I noticed the doctor had his arm, up to his elbow, in my vagina trying to get my placenta out. Though painful and uncomfortable, he finally was able to get it out.
As Kiley was getting measured, weighed, and her first bath, the doctor was stitching me back up. One of the most beautiful things was watching Collin with Kiley. As she was laying naked and screaming her head off on the exam table after being weighed, Collin walked over, bent down close enough that she could see him and said “Hey Kiley, it’s your dad”…she heard his voice immediately stopped crying. It was so incredible how she knew her daddy’s voice, especially since he would put his head next to my belly and talk to her every day during pregnancy telling her that she was beautiful, that he loved her, and to “stay strong little one.”
We had several family members that were at the hospital over 48 hours during this whole process. Some other family members came and went based on their schedule. As Kiley went to get her bath, Collin went with them and our family was finally able to see her. Collin and Kiley passed the waiting room where our family was, and as soon as they all saw her it was nothing but tears of joy and relief. They got to watch through the window as Collin helped with her first bath and let her hold his finger as she got all of her checkups. Since I could not move at this time, I stayed behind and ate dinner. Oh my word…I was so starving at this point and that meal was divine. Once Collin and Kiley returned, our family came in to meet her in person. They were beyond excited for us, and relieved that the brutal labor was over.
We ended up staying in recovering until around 5PM on Friday evening. With all the nurse visits for me or Kiley, and family coming in and out, I was beyond ready to go to our own home again. 5 days at a hospital is a really long time.
Please do not think I am some super woman…because I am not. As I write this, I am still in complete awe that all of this happened. I know that the only reason I was able to go through each step of this birthing process, for as long as I did, was because of the Lord. God gave me strength I did not even know I had. We had so many people praying for us and I know this all attributed to the outcome. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would have one of the longest labors recorded at Miami Valley. From all the wonderful nurses and staff we interacted with, I know God’s hand was all over this experience. I easily could have hemorrhaged from my placenta not coming out, or Kiley could have had complications from such a long labor and birth, but again, God spared us from that. His fingerprints were all over this story.
I am so thankful that God has graced us with our daughter, Kiley. The birthing experience was yet another thing God used to strengthen our marriage. We felt so much closer after this process. Through pregnancy and birth, God has softened my heart and opened my eyes to Him in a whole new way. I am learning to lean on Him and trust Him in ways I have never experienced. We feel so honored to be Kiley’s parents. Kiley is ultimately God’s daughter and, for some reason, God chose us to raise her. We pray that God will continue to give us the grace and strength we need to give her a picture of God’s love.
Anybody else BAWLING? Yes. I have read this story at least three times, and I even heard it in person a few days after the fact and it never gets old!!! Amazing!!
As always, if you have a question or comment for Jess, you can leave it below or send her an email at [email protected]
If you would like to contribute a birth story, please email me at [email protected] I look forward to hearing from you!