Mama Lindsey Hawes shares the hospital birth story of her first baby on the Honest Birth birth story series! Lindsey was surprised to find out at the hospital that she was in labor at 32 weeks, and after getting an epidural, had a successful vaginal birth! Her daughter stayed in the NICU for 17 days before coming home.
Hey mamas! Welcome to the twenty-ninth post in my Honest Birth series! I’m excited to share another real mama’s birth story, because I think it’s so important to share our childbirth experiences with each other. My goal with this series is to provide a place for women to share their birth stories without holding anything back, as well as compile stories for pregnant mamas to read in preparation for their own childbirth experiences. Every mama is different and every birth is different, and I believe that when we share our stories we help each other.
Today I am featuring my friend Lindsey Hawes. Lindsey and I met last year through church and have become good friends. Our kids love playing with each other, and we have the same sense of humor, which I really appreciate! Lindsey and her husband have three kids and live here in Minnesota. Lindsey was born and raised in Clinton, Tennessee, and besides being a stay-at-home mom, she battles dragons, negotiates complex sibling treaties, and cooks three course meals nobody eats due to “disgusting vegetables.” She constantly daydreams of the day when her singing voice will call to the woodland creatures, who will take over all cleaning duties, leaving sparkly perfection in their wake. Today Lindsey is sharing the birth story of her first baby, a girl, who is now eight years old.
Ready to read her daughter’s story? Let’s do it!
The Birth Story of Avery Hawes
I was twenty-nine when I had my first baby. We had been married for four years and had purposely waited until my husband had finished grad school before starting our family. There were spreadsheets, budgets, and timelines. Greg had graduated and secured gainful employment, we had just purchased our first house, and things were going along perfectly. We thought we had everything planned (I mean it was on a spreadsheet) and we were totally ready. But life happens.
Upon graduating, Greg and I moved to Minnesota where he could pursue a career in public accounting. In case you’re unfamiliar with accounting firms, there’s something called “busy season,” (typically January-end of March) where employees are “strongly encouraged” not to take any vacation or leave. So, this was taken into account during our family planning. We were ecstatic to find out I was due March 24 because this fit in perfectly with our timeline. So, we found a house, moved in and started getting ready for a baby.
I don’t want to brag or anything but I throw up A LOT when I’m pregnant. With my first pregnancy, that first trimester was a killer. Morning, afternoon, evening, it didn’t matter, I was constantly nauseated. I lost around 10 lbs. those first few months. Food didn’t sound good, look good, or even taste that great. Random things would make me sick. The worst was probably the morning I had frosted flakes come out of my nose while throwing up. So gross. And yet it tasted EXACTLY the same. I’ll never forget it. The first trimester finally gave way to the second and with that transition my body acclimated to its new purpose. Doctors appointments were going well. The baby was measuring a good week or so ahead size wise. The holidays came and went and soon it was January.
January in Minnesota means cold and snow….and basically all the things you associate/hate about winter. Greg was now in the throws of busy season which meant 80-90 hour work weeks and me home alone the majority of the time. Monday, January 25th it snowed a little, maybe a half inch, and I decided to shovel it. Please don’t mistake, I never actually lifted anything. I merely scooted the snow around with a shovel. It wasn’t heavy, or strenuous. But I was tired afterward. I was 32 weeks pregnant and thought that was pretty par for the course; then my back started aching a bit. Again, nothing major, it felt kind of like a running cramp. I took some Tylenol and the pain disappeared. Greg got home and I went to bed. Around 5 in the morning my back started aching a little bit again so I got up and took some more Tylenol and watched a Discovery Channel special on the ancient Egyptians. (It’s funny the things you remember.) I also truly believed that I had just somehow tweaked a muscle in my back and this had nothing at all to do with the baby; I mean, I wasn’t due for another 8 weeks.
The day was uneventful. No weird aches or pains. No more snow. I read, cleaned, and made plans to meet with my sister-in-law to pick out paint for the baby’s room. Greg and I were picking out baby furniture that weekend and we were going to be SO ready when the baby came.
We were fools.
Around 8 pm on January 26th I got up from the couch with a list of tasks to complete. 1. Go to the bathroom. 2. Get a granola bar. 3. Get my phone charger because my phone was dead. 4. Get a blanket because it’s cold in Minnesota in January. When I stood up and started walking up the stairs I noticed I was…. dripping. The first thing I thought was “Oh man, I heard this could happen. I probably should have gone to the bathroom sooner.” So, I went to the bathroom and discovered, after relieving myself, I was still dripping.
In the movies they show a woman’s water breaking with a huge gush of water and a dramatic puddle forming at her feet. Let me reiterate, that wasn’t what happened. This was a small faucet drip, constant and annoying but not unmanageable. However, I was home alone (Greg was still “accounting” somewhere) and figured I needed some advice from a professional. So, I called my doctor.
Dr. Peterson was a wizened professional with decades of experience and thousands of babies delivered. He helped advocate for a woman’s right to choose epidurals or natural births and he LISTENED to me. I trusted him completely. (I still do…he didn’t die or anything, but he did retire.) When I told him I was leaking he calmly told me to come in and get checked out. He was so calm I didn’t think twice about it and figured I’d be sent home soon after with a pat on the head. I then called my husband and left a short vague message about going to the hospital and to call me back immediately. I was calm because I didn’t believe we were having a baby yet. I was still trying to convince myself that I was totally overreacting and I had just peed myself because given the two choices, peeing myself was actually the BETTER alternative, which isn’t the case most of the time.
I called my mother-in-law, as Greg was still not answering his phone, and asked if she’d mind giving me a ride to the hospital which she quickly agreed to. Then I started running around my room, pretty much in circles, trying to think of things to pack just in case this was really IT (I was still thinking this might all be a HUGE mistake). I packed clothes for myself and a few things for Greg, and half the toiletry items I need…and when I say half I mean half, like I packed my toothbrush but no toothpaste, and I packed my deodorant but forgot Greg’s, stuff like that. And you have to know me but I am a little obsessive compulsive about packing so after everything was said and done, finding out I had done this DROVE ME CRAZY (and that’s why they tell you to have a hospital bag ready to go).
My mother-in-law Faye arrives to find me running all over the place (leaving a nice cute little trail in my wake in the process). She calmly tells me to get in the car. I ignore her the first three times and try to finish packing before she finally says, “Lindsey, GET IN THE CAR.”
You see at this point I still FELT fine, no pains, no contractions, no nothing, except for that pesky back pain that I got from “shoveling.” It wasn’t until we were halfway to the hospital that I started to feel cranky and all of a sudden, my stomach hurt.
Faye took me to the Emergency Room entrance and a nice man wheeled me up to the maternal assessment unit in an old-fashioned wheelchair that looked like it belonged on the set of a 1920’s horror movie. Greg was already there and I was SO glad to see him. He was so calm.
We got to the assessment unit around 9:30 pm and that’s when the McCarthyesque interrogation began. Let me tell you, I have never answered SO many questions in my entire life than on that night. And frankly it is the WORST time to be asking anybody questions. I understand they need to know medical information like are you allergic to air and things of that nature, but really do you need to ask me “How do you handle pain?” (to which I responded–I DON’T TALK.) My stomach hurt and my back hurt and people would NOT STOP talking to me. At some point the nurse came in and told me I was already a “5” which meant there was no turning back, and I was really having the baby…like right then.
You know how they tell you “you can’t describe labor pain?” Well that’s TRUE. You live pain to pain. Moment to moment. My only thought was, “You’re going to be ok. Women do this all the time so you’re going to be ok.” Then the nurse asked me what my pain level was; I thought about it for a minute and said “7”…why did I say “7?” Because a “10” would be like burning alive while drowning in my mind…and I didn’t feel that badly yet. Then the nurse asked “So how high do you want to go before you try pain meds?” That’s when I said “Uh not much higher thank you.” So they ordered an epidural. I’m pretty sure the nurse kept asking me questions, but I ignored her.
Greg, however, was great! He didn’t talk to me at ALL and if he did it was only to ask if I was doing ok. He would wink or smile or softly pull my hair out of my face and pat or hold my hand. He was PERFECT. Bonus points to him for actually listening to my answers.
After I was fully “assessed” they wheeled me to what I call the intermission room, mostly because I don’t know what else to call it. There I received an epidural. Up until that moment I hadn’t really decided if I was going to try the natural route or go with an epidural, but at that moment I was truly grateful for the drugs. Things were happening fast and furious. And there was an underlying feeling of deep apprehension; 8 weeks early isn’t extreme, but it is early. The nurse told me I’d be in the intermission room until I was a “10,” so I figured I had a while—I was TOTALLY wrong. After getting the epidural they checked me and I was a “9.” Time check: approximately 12:00 AM; so off we went.
After receiving the marvelous medicine, they wheeled me into the super sterile and white and bright delivery room. Contractions were coming fast and furious. The doctor asked if I’d like to watch in the mirror. That was a big nope for me; I’m not good with blood and grossness. The nice nurse lady asked me if I was ready, and I said “sure, let’s do this.” She promptly responded “oh honey this part will probably take hours.” Challenge accepted. I pushed for 24 minutes and then there she was, placed on my chest all gooey and screaming. Cone head and all. I couldn’t believe it, still can’t believe it, really. It all happened SO fast. Avery was 4lbs 10 oz. and 17 1/2 inches long. She never needed oxygen and only had to remain in the NICU for 17 days. Many prayers were answered that night. She, though 8 weeks early, was perfect, and we count our blessings everyday that her birth was as positive an experience as it was.
Wasn’t that so crazy? You never really know what labor is like until you go through it yourself, and even then it’s hard to believe it’s really happening! Thanks so much to Lindsey for sharing her story on the Honest Birth series! And check back next month for another Honest Birth post!