Mama Susannah Kellogg of Simple Moments Stick shares the natural hospital birth story of her second son on the Honest Birth birth story series! Susannah was at 5cm for several days before going into labor and delivering her son naturally!
Hey mamas! Welcome to the eighth 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 Susannah! We’ve followed each other’s blogs for a few years now, and it’s been fun to follow her through her last pregnancy and the birth of her newest little boy! Susannah is the wife of an associate pastor and mama to two handsome little boys. Her blog is called Simple Moments Stick, and she blogs mostly about motherhood and I love how she brings her faith into every post she writes. She and her family live in the Pacific Northwest and I’m excited that she has agreed to share the natural birth of her son Josiah!
Ready to read the first natural birth story of the series? Let’s do it!
The Birth Story of Josiah Garrett Kellogg
“You know, you can get drugs to take away the pain.” Those were the first words out of the doctor’s mouth when he walked into my hospital room. No “Hi, I’m Dr So-and-So.” No “What is your birth plan?” Not even a “Wow, that looked like it was a strong contraction.”
I’m pretty sure I shot daggers out of my eyes as my husband introduced himself to the doctor and explained my birth plan and the fact that I was planning on delivering our second son without an epidural.
Let’s back up a few days. Everyone had told me that second babies tend to come earlier than first babies. I had my oldest son a week early so I was hopeful my second would be right around then as well. That time frame came and passed and I was still pregnant. At 39 weeks and one day – on a Friday – I had a doctor appointment to check out how my little dude was doing. I was four centimeters dilated and my doctor said she’d be shocked if I didn’t have the little man that weekend. She offered to strip my membranes but I decided against it – Josiah could come in his own timing.
As I’m sure you could guess, I did not go into labor that weekend. Now, I love my OBGYN. She’s a warm, friendly personality – someone I’m comfortable with and trust. I purposely chose the healthcare facility I went to because of her, knowing she did all her own patient’s deliveries. It was one less thing to worry about when it was time to deliver. Unfortunately, my doctor was going out of town in the middle of the following week so she had me set up an appointment with her on Monday, assuming I would have had my baby before then and wouldn’t have to make that appointment. Since Josiah was content in my uterus, I went to the appointment and this time she found that I was five centimeters dilated! My body was ready but baby boy wasn’t. I was DONE being pregnant so this time I decided to let her strip my membranes (which, thankfully, wasn’t as painful as I was expecting) and she said she couldn’t imagine me not going into labor in the next 24 hours. I went home and got the house clean, ready for this baby to come. That cleaning went to waste, though, because Josiah didn’t agree with the 24 hour timeline. He happily stayed tucked up in his little cocoon.
As I left to go to my non-stress test Tuesday evening I jokingly told Nate to expect a phone call from me, telling him I was in labor. Where’s a more fitting place to go into labor than a hospital? I left him the list of last minute things to throw in my hospital bag if that were to happen and headed on my way. The non stress test went perfectly fine and, once I was done, the nurse came in and told me that she had just gotten off the phone with my doctor and that I had options. Option one was head home and continue waiting for Josiah to decide when he’d like to come. Option two was to have my doctor break my water and get the party started since I was already so far progressed and she was going out of town the following day.
All of a sudden an alarm started going off on the monitor I was hooked up to! I was still connected to all the non-stress test machinery and my heart rate had skyrocketed – setting off the alarm! The shock and stress of having to make a decision like that (combined with pregnancy hormones) made me burst into tears. Of course, the tears made me laugh over how silly it was to be crying. I decided to call Nate and discuss the options with him. Sure, I had jokingly told him to expect a call but I didn’t honestly think it was going to happen. Through hormonal tears (have I mentioned yet that pregnancy hormones are no joke?) we decided that the only reason to break my water would be so my doctor could deliver Josiah and that felt selfish to us so we decided to keep waiting. We hadn’t even reached the little man’s due date, let alone gone over it, so there was no reason to rush him out.
Since apparently my little man was never going to be born, I decided to stop preparing. Instead of making sure my life was prepared for going into labor, on Wednesday I made the day all about Caleb. We went to storytime at the library (where all the other moms were shocked to learn that I was due the following day), we met some friends at the park and I ran (waddled) around with Caleb, we saw that the splash pad was open so we headed over to enjoy the sunshine and water. As we pulled into the parking lot at the splash pad and I got out of the car my water broke all over the place. There I stood, sopping wet from the waist down. I pretty much created my own splash pad for myself. Nate was on his way to join us so I decided to let Caleb play until he got there. Ten minutes later Nate arrived, I let him know what had happened, and we loaded a confused Caleb back into the car to head home to meet the babysitter and grab the hospital bags.
By the time we drove the fifteen minutes to the hospital, contractions had begun and it was easy to see that the baby was on his way! As we did the intake information, got my IV hooked up, and all the other things that have to happen when a woman is having a baby I realized I was a celebrity in the hospital birthing center. Every nurse who came in to do one thing or another gave me a knowing “oh you’re the gal who was walking around at 5 centimeters for days.” They were all just waiting for me to arrive to have the baby. #SmallTownHospital
As I labored, I wondered to myself which doctor was going to be delivering my baby. Two of the things I love about my doctor are that #1 – she’s a woman and I’m much more comfortable with a woman down there and #2 – she’s super warm and inviting and friendly. I was hopeful that whoever the on call doctor was would be both those things as well. Unfortunately, the doctor on call was the opposite.
I’m a wanna be crunchy hippy. I lived in Portland, Oregon for seven years and the crunchiness totally rubbed off on me. One of my desires has always been to have as medication-free deliveries as I could. I was able to accomplish an epidural free delivery with my first son (I did end up getting some Fentanyl in my IV due to horrific back labor) and knew, barring complications, I’d be doing it again with my second.
When the doctor on call walked into my room and immediately suggested an epidural I was concerned I’d be fighting the rest of my delivery for him to follow my birth plan. Thankfully, he didn’t bring it up again.
About four hours after arriving at the hospital I knew it was time to ask for a dose of Fentanyl in my IV. Since this time around I expected the back labor (especially given the fact that this hospital doesn’t allow mothers to labor in the tub after their water breaks and that’s what helped me through labor with Caleb), I knew I wanted a heating pad on my back and the ability to get Fentanyl when needed. The relief was wonderful – like with Caleb it took the edge off of things and allowed me to keep my focus on relaxing through my contractions. Unfortunately the medication wasn’t as great for Josiah. The fetal monitor showed that he wasn’t moving as much as he had been so the nurse brought over an oxygen mask for me to wear. Thankfully within about half an hour Josiah was back to where they were comfortable with his movements and I was able to go off the oxygen.
Fentanyl is allowed once an hour during labor but they try not to give it within an hour of delivery so a little over an hour after I had my first dose I checked with the nurses about getting a second dose and they said that I would probably be delivering within the hour at the rate I was going so they couldn’t give me another dose. I knew this was true go time – I had to get my head in the game because the pain was about to get really, really bad.
About fifteen minutes after that conversation happened I was struggling! Each contraction brought horrible pain that left me exhausted in between. It was then that I began regretting my stubbornness and decision to have a natural childbirth – and that regret just reminded me how close I was to meeting my little man.
Another fifteen minutes passed and, all of a sudden, my body was ready to push. We quickly told the nurses what was going on and, after being checked and being told that I was only nine centimeters dilated, I was told I couldn’t push. Let me tell you, telling a mother in labor that she’s not allowed to push when that’s all her body wants to do – especially when she’s going epidural free and doesn’t like being told no – isn’t something a nurse should do lightly. I was not a fan of being told not to push and let the nurses know it.
Thankfully the doctor came in at that point and said it was go time. Up went my feet and I was ready to roll. Although the doctor was impersonal and had a hands off approach, I actually found that I loved it. He let my body tell me what it needed and allowed me to push when I saw fit and that worked for me even better than the guidance I got while I was delivering Caleb. It could have just been that he saw my stubbornness and knew I was going to get that baby out my way or it could just be the way he handles all his deliveries but I loved it.
After 23 minutes of pushing, my little Josiah Garrett entered the world. For all the frustration he gave me with thinking he was going to come sooner, he ended up arriving at 12:15am on his due date. He’s a punctual little booger.
As Josiah was laid on my chest it was clear that something wasn’t quite right – instead of crying he was wheezing. He was quickly taken from me in order to check his oxygen level and, as he let out a few cries, the nurses let me know that his oxygen level was fine. His wheezing had nothing to do with him getting the oxygen he needed.
While all this was going on the adrenaline of the delivery took over my body and I began shaking uncontrollably. The same thing happened after I had delivered Caleb so I knew that getting another dose of Fentanyl would calm my body down and allow me to deliver the placenta and get stitched up. Unfortunately, even after the shaking stopped my concern for Josiah was still overwhelming and caused me to not handle the needles and stitches that were happening. I delivered a 9lb baby so I was pretty torn up – I stopped counting after nine stitches and they still had to pack me with cotton to stop some of the bleeding. I had gone through natural childbirth but the pain of being stitched up affected me more.
Thankfully I got all stitched up, the bleeding got under control, and Josiah was laid on my chest for snuggles. His wheezing gradually went down in the first 12 or so hours until it didn’t exist anymore.
Josiah is the perfect addition to our family and I can’t wait to go through another epidural free delivery! Ok, I take that back, I CAN wait. Let’s get my baby sleeping through the night before I even think about having another one. 😉
Wasn’t that amazing!? I loved so many things about Susannah’s story (especially her water breaking at the splash pad!). Make sure you check out Susannah’s blog, Simple Moments Stick, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Thanks to Susannah for sharing Josiah’s birth story and thanks to all of you mamas for coming to read it! Check back in two weeks for another Honest Birth post!