Monthly Archives: February 2017

Hunter’s Birth Story, Part Two

For Part One, click here.

We jumped right into pushing, with Mike and my mom each holding a leg and me pushing for ten seconds, three times per contraction.  I was so excited, so positive and convinced that this might actually work and I might be able to experience pushing a baby out of my body.  The epidural was working but gave me enough sensation that I could move my legs or change position without a lot of trouble.


Pushing must have been my nurse’s forte, because suddenly she was bright and optimistic.  Perhaps she was anticipating the delivery and therefore conclusion of dealing with me in labor?  Perhaps it was nearing the end of her shift?  Perhaps she genuinely was excited?  I’ll never know, but she dropped the sass and became Susie Sunshine for the next few hours.

We tried different positions and kept the pushing consistent as the hands wound round the clock.  I had no concept of time as I labored, elated and anticipating meeting the baby whose gender I didn’t even know.  The nurse kept saying, “I can see hair!  It’s getting closer!” And I would surge with energy and push all the harder.  My mom later told me that she was watching and the baby was not getting any closer, and as each hour passed she wished the nurse would stop giving me false hope.  Looking back now, I’m actually glad she encouraged me because I wanted to give it all I had, and I don’t know if I could have if I’d been told I wasn’t making progress.

The doctor checked in periodically and reached his hand inside to try to manipulate the baby’s head a bit to assist.  It was so intense it felt like he was reaching to the back of my throat.

The epidural started to wane, and I pushed the little button to deliver more of it.  Minutes would pass and I’d only feel more sensation, more pain, and I started to mildly panic.  I told the nurse the drug wasn’t working anymore; I could feel the contractions and pain with every push.  She told me it was likely working but I was just getting worn down after hours of pushing.  I told her the statistics about redheads and anesthesia (we have high drug tolerance so typical pain management is often inadequate).  She seemed irritated by this and became impatient that I was focusing on my pain.

She told me to get on all fours and try to push that way, and just getting into that position was a laugh riot in itself.  As soon as I started to push my body erupted in pain and I told her I couldn’t deliver a baby like a dog.  I returned to my back and the contractions started to come faster, and when they came I reverted to breathing to cope with them, and the nurse noticed this and said, “No, you’ve got to keep pushing!”  To which I replied, in desperation, “I can’t do both!  I can either cope with the pain or push but I can’t do both!  The drugs aren’t working!”  And she said, which I still can’t believe, “Well, what do you think you’d be doing if you didn’t have these drugs?  You wouldn’t have a choice.  You have to push!”  I felt venom run through my veins and gave Mike the universal wife glare to please clock this lady at his first opportunity.

Luckily he was still in his rational mind.

After another hour of pushing with nothing to show for it, the doctor came in to talk to me about having a cesarean.  I shook my head in denial and disbelief, saying I hadn’t come this far to quit; I was determined to have a vaginal delivery.  He was completely calm and drenched his words in kindness, and he explained that four hours of pushing with almost no progress was a sure sign that the baby wasn’t coming, and this was the best thing to ensure the health of both of us.

“Abby,” he said compassionately, “if you were my wife, I’d already have you prepped for surgery.  No question.”

I stopped talking then.  I sat quietly and then told him I just needed a minute to accept it.  He left the room and I broke down crying.

I asked why?  Why was this happening?  How had we come so far and had this happen again?  How had all of my effort lead to surgery again?  Was something wrong with me?  With my body?  All of my family members came into the room and poured love over me, saying again and again that this wasn’t a failure, this was a saving grace, and thank God there was this operation to help us meet this baby.  I cried quietly and then nodded, and the doctor came back in and we prepared to head to the operating room.

By this point the epidural had worn off almost entirely, and the pain was almost unbearable.  They wheeled me down the hall and I couldn’t stop repeating “How much longer?  How long until they do the full block?  How many minutes exactly!?”  I can’t describe the pain because I can’t remember what it felt like, but I can remember never having felt more desperate or scared in my entire life.  I thought the pain would make me faint.


When they sat me up to move me to the surgical bed I held onto Mike and begged him to do something, do anything to help.  He felt incredible pressure and pain at seeing me like this, and would ask “How long until you can help her?  How many minutes?” And when they said six more minutes I cried again thinking there had never been such a long period of time.  Writing this feels utterly pathetic, but I can’t overstate my misery.

At that point, my lowest by far, the nurse said to every doctor and nurse in attendance, “This one has a lot of questions,” with a look of total contempt.  She might as well have said, “This one is a handful,” to all the people about to deliver my child.  I couldn’t believe it, but I also didn’t have mental energy to give to her.

Finally the anesthesiologist inserted the block and they laid me down to begin.

Since the pain had abated, Mike and I refocused on the importance of what was about to happen: we were about to meet our third baby.

We reminded the doctor that we didn’t know the gender, and that Mike wanted to be the one to announce it to me.  The doctor made his incision and described what he was doing to me, and then said, “You’re going to feel some pressure…” and then he and the other doctor gasped as they glimpsed our baby.

“What!?” we said, convinced something was wrong.

“It’s HUGE!  It’s a toddler!!” they exclaimed, laughing.  And then he lifted our precious baby high in the air for us to see.

“Abby!!!  It’s a BOY!!!” Mike beamed at me, radiant with joy.

And there he was; extraordinary, perfect baby Hunter.


Everything slowed to a quiet hum as they laid him across my chest and I kissed the softest newborn skin and said hello to his perfect chin, chubby cheeks, and plump round body resting against my heart.


The pain and exhaustion disappeared, replaced with absolute peace and gratitude.  Mike leaned in and we greeted our baby with overwhelming love, amazed that this was our son.

Our son whose size no one could get over, by the way.  The doctors kept chatting about him as they stitched me up.

“Easily my biggest baby of the year,” my doctor told the room.

Every nurse called out bets, all in agreement that he was over ten pounds, it was just a question of how much.

He was born looking like a three month old, and it was pure joy to witness.


He weighed ten pounds, eleven ounces.

His size also made it immediately obvious to everyone why he wouldn’t come out the traditional way.  The doctor launched right into how he was simply too large for my body to push out, and had he come that way, I would have likely needed surgery to repair the extensive damage.

I was flooded with relief, and also shame at having been so angry at how he needed to get here.  Even though he didn’t come the way I’d dreamed, God still gave me so many gifts in what I didn’t get to experience with the twins: my water breaking, going into labor naturally, laboring to eight centimeters before resting, pushing with all my strength (okay I did also get to experience that with the twins).  Seeing how large he was allowed me to turn my disappointment into great gratitude for us meeting each other in perfect health, just as we were meant to.

In one of the happiest experiences of our lives, we were wheeled down the hall to a crowd of waiting family, me in the bed and Mike walking next to me holding Hunter, and he yelled, “It’s a boy!” to enormous cheers.  I shared his name with everyone and then we went into our room to let everyone meet him.

The next morning (since he was born at 8:02PM, it was past the twins’ bedtime) Henry and Arden came to meet their little brother for the first time.



They were like…what baby?  My mom is in a bed.  This is not normal.  Are there any snacks?

Others were more interested.




We couldn’t get over his dark hair and skin that was much more olive than Henry or Arden’s.


Not surprisingly, he was a great eater and sleeper right from the start, which we credited to his enormous size.  He was such a contented baby, and we delighted in him.

A day after he was born, it was time to remove my catheter to get my body back in order.  I asked for a little more time, even six hours, because it was so painful and difficult to get in and out of bed to use the bathroom.  The nurse on duty said she would delay it a few more hours, but it would be out by early the next morning.  I agreed, gratefully.

The next morning a new nurse arrived and removed the catheter, and soon afterward asked that I try urinating to make sure things were working as they should.

They weren’t, and so began the most agonizing ordeal of my life.


Part Three coming soon.



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Hunter’s Birth Story

Remember that one time I had a baby and promised I would tell his birth story before he was 21 months old?  You probably don’t, because you have a life, but I do, and it haunts me. Hunter turns 21 months old on February 10, so I’m keeping my promise by the most anorexic of margins.  I originally made that odd-numbered-month promise because that’s how long it took me to write the story of the twins’ birth.

I know procrastination had a starring role, but the other lead actors in my failure to record his birth actually involve his birth: it was an emotional and unexpected series of events, and the drama of circumstances after his birth made me recoil at the thought of writing it all down.  I’m still not sure how much of his post-birth story I’m going to share, because it’s very personal and hard to write about.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Sunday morning, May 10, 2015 was Mother’s Day, and it was also the day we were planning to dedicate Henry and Arden to the Lord in a service at our church.  We had attempted this twice before, both times resulting in illness and missed dedications, so I was determined to make it to church that morning.

I have no memory of what we did that morning.  I am sure Mike made a special Mother’s Day breakfast and tried to let me sleep in, but I was having Braxton Hicks contractions every day by that point (two days shy of my due date) so I probably just waddled around trying to get the kids dressed.

This was the state of my ginormity (taken the previous day at a Mother’s Day celebration at my parents’ house with precious baby Gardner, now two and a half (sob!)):


I was standing near the family room at 7:50AM when I felt an odd sensation that drove me to the bathroom.  The second I sat down my water broke.  I knew instantly that was it, and I was amazed my body warned me to reach the toilet.  I called to Mike the phrase all men ache to hear, “Babe………….my water broke.”

He couldn’t believe it because this was a first for us, having been induced with the twins.  I called the doctor’s office and the nurse asked me to sit on the toilet again and wiggle around and see if more fluid came out.  She wanted to ensure I hadn’t mistaken this for peeing.  I was vaguely insulted but did as I was told and said yep, more fluid, lady.  She said “Come on in, you’re in labor.”

Normally this would be music to my ears, but I temporarily lost my mind and said, “You know, we have a dedication this morning with the twins, and would it be okay if we just swung by there on our way and took care of that and then came in?”  She was like, um, no.

Which is funny, because it’s also what Mike said when I posed the same question.

We called my parents to come over to watch Henry and Arden, and then I started packing up last minute items and Mike ran around getting everything ready to go.  I started laboring immediately, surprising both of us, and had to stop every couple of minutes to breathe through contractions.  I couldn’t believe how fast it was happening, and I was so excited to be in labor naturally.

My parents arrived and I kept tidying things, bending to breathe, telling my mom things to remember, bending to breathe, walking room to room thinking about what needed to be done, bending to breathe.  Mike became more and more alarmed by the closeness of my contractions, and kept saying, “BABE.  WE NEED TO GO.  NOW!”  And I kept saying, “It’s going to take hours, don’t you remember last time?”  And then I’d bend over and breathe.

I stopped in Henry and Arden’s room to say goodbye to them, and felt my throat tighten and my eyes burn as I hugged them goodbye.  I felt I was saying goodbye to us, to the Fab Four, to the era of my life when it was just us and the twins.  My mom could see the emotion rising and said, “They’re fine, you don’t have time for this, you’re in labor, GO.”  So I heaved myself up and walked out the door.

As a reminder, these little babies were who I was saying goodbye to.


It’s shocking to look at them now and think that I was having a baby with twins at this age.  At the time I knew everyone around me was deeply concerned for my sanity at having a baby when the twins were so young, but I couldn’t see it then — they looked like big toddlers to me.  Probably because it felt like it took so long to get them to this point, they just seemed older to me than to everyone else.  And now I look at this photo and can’t believe what babies they were.

Once we checked into the hospital, the nurse took us to one of those super private triage areas where you’re separated from the other laboring moms by nothing but a curtain.  We could hear what sounded like a man making deeply disturbing moans, and of course it couldn’t have been a man in the maternity ward, but I kept saying to Mike, “What IS that?!  Do we have to listen to that?!”  And then I’d contract and wouldn’t care again for another sixty seconds.

The nurse was a little, shall we say…huffy.  That’s probably the only word.  I am an open communicator, particularly when I’m engaged in something as enormous and rare as giving birth, and she seemed indignant that I would ask so many questions; she took it as a personal offense like I didn’t trust her.  So we were on rocky territory right from the start.

I’d been laboring hard and in significant enough pain that I told Mike I was sure I was more than five centimeters.  She checked me and announced I was three, and I was completely aghast.  I told her that was impossible, and that I knew through my prior birth experience that my cervix was tricky to measure, which she accepted with an eye roll and a threat to do a balloon to try to open my cervix.

I asked if my doctor could check and this did not please her at all, but she called him.  He came in very shortly (it was 10AM now) and after checking, announced I was at six centimeters.  Triple victory!  Far along!  No balloon!  And most importantly, in-your-face Nurse Huffy!

We proceeded to the delivery room and I labored in all the ways one does — on a ball, standing, holding Mike’s shoulders and leaning, walking around, the works.  Each contraction approached like a bell curve, slow to start, peaking, then slowing backing away.  I told Mike this was night-and-day different from laboring on Pitocin during my induction with the twins.  It was drastically easier to manage, way less pain, and I could totally cope.  I had to admit it became progressively more painful, and I must have expressed as much because he started to ask me to order the epidural.

I told him I was fine, and I wanted to see how far I could go, and I did for another half hour or so, but then things became much more intense and I told the nurse I was ready for help.  She called the anesthesiologist and reported back to me that the one on-site was in a c-section and she’d paged someone on call.

“One!?  There is only one for all of the women here?  How is that possible?  How is that responsible?”  I gasped.

“Well it’s the weekend,” she replied, like that made any sense.

I knew I was crossing into the ugly side of my personality, but I was in labor and didn’t care.  “Oh, because women only have babies Monday through Friday?  Incredibly logical.”

She sort of glared at me.  I sort of glared back, and then I contracted.

Just before the glorious anesthesiologist arrived at 11:40AM, they checked me again and I was at eight centimeters, which made me feel like superwoman.  I had only made it to four with the twins before needing help, and though there is no shame in that, Competitive Abby wanted to better her score.  You know, for those non-existent awards handed out at the end of each delivery.

The drugs worked like a dream and I took a little nap from 12:30 to 1:30PM.  My mom had arrived by this point and she and Mike hung out while I dozed in medicated bliss.

At 3PM they checked me again and I was a full ten, ready to rock.  And so the pushing began.  My old friend!  Oh wait, my foe.  I always mix those two up.

For Part Two, click here.







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