John-Paul: A Birth Story

Name: John-Paul Steward Dill

Date of Birth: November 5, 2014

Time of birth: 2:06am

Weight: 7 pounds 7 ounces

Length: 21 1/4 inches

See Guessing Game winners at the bottom of the post!

Ah! The day finally came! The day that cannot be circumvented in any way…but that a pregnant woman must go through: Birth Day. It’s really something strange to have this day looming ahead, a day that you both fear and want to arrive so badly. I had emotionally prepared myself to go beyond our November 10 due date…but at 4am on November 4th, I dreamt that I was talking with my friend Kelly Radigan. In real life, she has a daughter, Lily, that is about 2 years old. And in my dream, Kelly was telling me that she was planning on starting to breastfeed Lily! I couldn’t believe it, could you really start breastfeeding at 2 years old? How do you pull that stunt off?

I never found out how Kelly was going to manage beginning to breastfeed a toddler, because that’s when my water broke.

I shot up in bed, (mostly) sure that I had not just peed the bed. So I tapped Josh on the shoulder, “Josh! Josh! I think my water just broke!” My usual deep sleeper husband’s eyes flew open, big as saucers. As I got up out of bed to inspect, my water continued to come out (If that’s Too Much Information, you may want to opt out of reading a post about birth). Yup, water broke. And by the way, I thought it was a one time thing and then liquid stopped coming out of my body…um no. Continuous trickle. Did not know that.

Excited and nervous, we started getting the last minute items in our bag and taking care of a few things around the house. Honestly, I planned on staying at home as long as I could before heading to the hospital. I wasn’t having any contractions yet either, so I figured at the very least I’d wait until I had some contractions. But two hours after my water broke, we thought we should at least let our midwife know what was going on and she advised us to come in. I started having some lower back contractions, kind of felt like starting one’s period. We took our time wrapping up some things, and then headed out the door for our 45 minute drive to Lewistown. Of course, I had to let sentimental reign supreme and play a little Celine to celebrate this momentous occasion:


And I did shed a tear because my heart felt so full of love.

Standing. Smiling. Clueless.
Standing. Smiling. Clueless.

We went up to the maternity floor and they admitted me into a labor and birthing room. We got settled in and slowly but surely my back contractions became longer and more consistent. I still didn’t feel anything in my abdomen, which I thought was weird. My midwife came by to check on me and told me that I was about 80% effaced and 2-3 centimeters dilated. Overall, things were looking pretty good for both the baby and I. The pain was present but manageable, and I did some stretches and used various coping techniques that I’d read about over the course of pregnancy. I felt like I was moving alot, just testing things out to see how they helped.  I tried standing and kneeling lunges, sitting in a rocker and leaning over onto Josh sitting in front of me. I did pelvic rocks (cat and cow stretch) and went for walks around the maternity floor, looking at the babies in the nursery knowing that mine would be here soon. Around 11 am the pain really started to increase and by mid-afternoon I was hurting pretty badly. I couldn’t feel the contractions in my abdomen because my back pain dominated; this led the nurses and midwife to believe that our baby was face up, and that the head was pressing against my spine with each contraction.

Morning tea. Still pretty clueless. Also, I will miss my portable food and drink tray, aka my belly.
Morning tea. Still pretty clueless. Also, I will miss my portable food and drink tray, aka my belly.

Time kind of seems warped…but I remember going into the pitch black bathroom and leaning over the sink as I bent my knees and moved my hips in a circle with each contraction. I don’t know how long this went on, but it seemed to be the only thing that helped for quite a while. After that, I was began having a very difficult time finding an sort of relief. I’m not sure what time it was, but my nurse, Elizabeth, suggested that I take a hot shower which can often help relax you in labor and ease the pain. With some apple juice in hand (clear liquids diet, baby), I sat in the shower and Josh helped keep the water angled on my lower back. I was probably in there for an hour to hour and a half! It really did help alot and allowed me to re-focus and re-motivate. When I got out of the shower I laid in bed on my side and did everything I could to power through…

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Hours later….

Sometime in the evening I got back in the shower, but it wasn’t as much of a pain reliever anymore… though it did allow me enough relaxation to look at my options and how to move forward. At this point, it was about 7 o’clock and I was only 5 centimeters dilated after 15 hours of labor. If I could have an estimated time line of how long it would have taken me to progress, I probably would have continued to try going without any interventions for pain…but there’s just no way to know. It could be one hour, it could be ten hours. I called Nurse Elizabeth (love. her.) in to talk about my options. My priority was that I wanted to be alert when the baby arrived…so that ruled out the drug that makes you “not care so much about the pain” i.e. feel like you’re stoned by a drug administered through an IV. My second option was spinal tap, which would numb me from the top of my rib cage down. My third choice was an epidural. I opted for the spinal, and then waited about an hour for the anesthesiologist to come give it to me. It felt like the longest hour of my life! I was scared about exactly how the shot would impact me and I was in the most pain I’d ever felt in my life. I don’t even know what to compare the pain to at this point. I laid in the bed shaking and when the doctor finally came in, I could barely do what he asked, but we made it through! He gave me the shot and within the next half hour, I was able to lay in bed and have a coherent conversation with the people around me. I think this was the most emotional part of labor for Josh – just feeling powerless to help as I suffered. It was finally at this point that I was able to feel excited about the birth again, and my heart felt full of love for Josh and the baby…and thankful for nurses who helped get me through! The nurses kept encouraging me to sleep and rest, but I was too excited!

I relaxed for a few hours, enjoying the effects of the pain relief. I could actually still feel enough to wiggle my toes and to know that I was having a contraction – it kind of felt like how it did to get kicked in the ribs by the baby…a feeling of tightness, but not pain. From about 8-11, they added pitocin to my IV (intensifying contractions without feeling the increase of pain!) and waited for my cervix to be fully dilated. I joked and laughed with Nurse Steph and learned about her family. She told me that she has a friend that made a HUMAN SIZE Dutch Blitz yard game. Dutch Blitz is a card game, so basically they have giant cards and play on teams with the same rules that you’d play with in the normal DB game.

Around 11pm, I could tell it was time to push. My midwife put a bar up in front of the bed, tied a sheet around it and instructed me on how to pull on the sheet while pushing down with the contractions. She put on some music (Enya, which I never would have picked myself but it was great birthing music) and away we went. Usually the pushing stage doesn’t last all that long…so I expected to bring the little bundle into the world around midnight. Well, midnight rolled by…but I still felt good. The spinal had worn off enough that I could feel and work with the pain, but I still had some relief. Pushing in a way was a pain reliever! It felt good to be able to do something with the pain rather than lay there and try to breathe through it. But after 2 hours of pushing, I was getting discouraged. Everyone kept telling me I was pushing great and we were almost there…Well then why isn’t my baby here yet if I’m doing so good?!? Answer: my baby was face up and didn’t want to move much. It’s funny though…because with the spinal and the pushing, they closely monitor they baby’s heart rate to see if the wee one is in distress or at risk….and while all this crazy stuff is going on with me, the baby is perfectly fine, seemingly relaxed, having no idea what a fuss people are making about him on the outside.

Meanwhile, I have my midwife trying to reach up and make adjustments to my cervix and the baby’s head (yeah…) and I’m trying to push through my bottom instead of putting the pressure into my feet as I press against the bars or Josh’s/the nurses hands. The last 30 minutes I was getting tired, nauseous and very frustrated. My midwife made some final adjustments as I pushed and it hurt so bad that I screamed out (I’ll refrain from writing down the words I actually said) with my final push…and to my very great surprise…MY BABY WAS HERE. Actually HERE! Born! I didn’t cry, I was just in so much shock and disbelief that we had made it and that HE (my baby BOY!) was HERE!

They placed him on my chest and I looked at this little person covered in goop, knowing my life would never be the same. Everything had shifted.

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After some time of gazing at our little love, Josh cut the cord and the took him across the room to check on him and clean him up. The effects of the spinal started kicking in for me, and I began to throw up (I was sick on and off until the next afternoon – still worth getting the spinal). We spent the next two days in the hospital recovering, basking in the glow of our sweet one, and trying to keep up with the countless texts and calls of support (THANK YOU!!!).

I take away a couple of things from our birthing experience:

1. Be flexible, and do what you need to go to get through. I did not want to have any medical interventions with our birth…but I’m so glad I had a supportive team of nurses and a husband who told me that it was completely up to me how to proceed. I had no pressure from anyone and I was able to make a clear decision with good information about what I thought would be best for me and the baby. Birth is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Getting pain medication doesn’t make you weaker than someone else…your circumstances could be totally different. And anyhow, it’s not about comparing, it’s about making the best choice with what you’ve got in front of you. I do hope in the future to give the full on natty approach a go, but I just have to take it one step at a time and be open to changes in my plan if the situation calls for it.

2. I am now beginning to understand just how much a parent loves their child. No matter how flawed, how imperfect, how challenging your relationship is with your parents…they love you more than you can know. They may make mistakes, but they love you so much it hurts. It makes me want to cry to now understand how much my parents love me. And also to see a tiny glimpse of just how much God the Father loves us…and how perfect His love is for us, despite our broken nature and our sin.

The Winners:

Girl or Boy Winner (I drew a random name for all those that guessed boy): Aunt Mary

Birth Date Winner: Aunt Michelle with the exact guess of November 5

Birth Time Winner: Amanda Sevigny with the closest guess of 2am

Weight Winner: Patrick Brooke with the exact guess of 7lbs and 7oz

Length Winner: Melanie Inns with the closest guess of 21 inches

Sometime in the next two weeks, I will send you a little prize! 🙂

9 thoughts on “John-Paul: A Birth Story

  1. Congratulations on such a beautiful baby. John Paul is a lovely name for him. I have to laugh at your dream prior to your water breaking. Kelly might have been in your dream to give you a heads up on back labor. She was a face up baby also and you did a marvelous summary of your birthing experience. For me it was a very long & painful labor ending in a c-section, but the best part is having a precious child when all is said and done. I even did it again with Ms. Kaitlin.Best wishes to your darling little family. God Bless!

  2. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in shock/awe/love with your beautiful babe and your amazing ability to bring celine dion in to your birth story. you are precious to me. MUSCLES was a more apt nickname than we could have known…well done, mama!

    1. He is so wonderful, SJ! I’m totally smitten with my mini-muscles. I will definitely email along some pictures to you (sans birth photos! I definitely did not have any taken of the actual moment he emerged… Beautiful as the whole process is…it’s pretty messy, also haha)

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