It took me four months to finally share my birth story because I wanted to make sure I was mentally and physically recovered before I shared it. Hopefully, writing it down will help me remember every single detail and encourage, empower and prepare others who might have a few fears when it comes to having a baby.
I know having a baby can be scary to think about for lots of reasons. My pregnancy was so easy, but I was scared about the delivery. And, it wasn’t rainbows and sunshine, that’s for sure, but it was worth it. I can tell you, no matter what happens, you are strong, you are resilient and you will get through it. Because at the end of the tunnel (or should I say the birth canal ?) there’s a precious gift from God.
So here’s my birth story.
Thursday, January 10, 2019, was an unusually warm January winter day. I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I woke up that morning remembering I had dreamed that I lost the bet on when the baby would be born. (We had a bet between family and friends about the birth date. It was basically the Louisiana Lottery as we have a huge group of friends and family. Ha.) There were lots of bets for January 10th. That’s probably because we had gotten a fortune cookie saying we would receive the gift of a lifetime on January 10th, plus my sister, Sadie, had dreamed that I would be having a baby on January 10thbefore I was even pregnant. It seemed like January 10thwould be the day.
But, I woke up feeling completely normal and, the day before, my doctor told me I had only dilated to .5 cm (it even shrunk from the week before when I was at 1.5cm at 38 weeks. I don’t know how that happened?) My doctor basically said I was nowhere close to going into labor that day, but he would like to induce me if I didn’t have it by 41 weeks. I really didn’t want to be induced. I just knew the baby was going to come when he was ready and I trusted God to have the perfect timing. Everyone has different views on this. That was mine at the time. In future pregnancies, I might think differently.
So, on January 10th, I went on with my day without worrying about anything, thinking I would have at least another two weeks until the baby would arrive. The weather was nice so I decided to create a “bump date” photo. I didn’t know this would be the very last photo of my baby in my belly. I posted an Instagram story giving everyone a baby update and telling them I was still pregnant. Then, I ran a few errands.
But, around 4:00 in the afternoon, my stomach starting hurting a bit. I thought I might be hungry, so I called my husband to see if he wanted to grab an early dinner. We met up at a restaurant in town. I remember thinking I was so hungry that I could barely get out the car. I felt like I could faint from hunger.
While we were eating, my stomach started cramping, but honestly at that point I had no idea what contractions would feel like, so I just thought I was having trouble digesting the food. At the same time, I felt a weird shooting pain in my inner thigh area. This got so intense I was literally jumping up from the seat from this weird shooting pain. Still, I didn’t think that it was contractions. (So funny to think about now!)
I remembered my mom and doctor told me if I started to feel any weird symptoms, I should just go to the hospital, just in case. I called my mom and told her I was going to go to the hospital just to find out what that pain was all about. I still didn’t think I was in labor, but I wanted to be safe. She said she would meet me there.
My husband and I were in two different cars since we met for dinner. I got in my car, headed to the hospital, and my husband followed behind me.
As soon as I pulled up at the hospital, the pain stopped completely. I almost didn’t go in. I didn’t want to feel stupid and make something out of nothing, but my husband said since we were there, we might as well go in and ask the nurse about the pain.
Being first time parents with zero experience, we were nervous and a little embarrassed. What do we even say?I chuckled and explained to the nurse that I was experiencing some pain on the way here, but it completely went away just as I pulled up. I told her we were embarrassed to even be there. The nurse was super nice and tried to make us feel normal. She said that contractions feel differently to everybody. She said it was a slow night, so if I wanted, she could hook me up to the machine to monitor my contractions.
I put on the hospital gown the nurse gave me, but I left my beanie on my head because my hair was so crazy under it. I looked like Buddy, the elf, hooked to a fetal monitor. By then, my mom had arrived so the three of us just sat there and watched the monitor.
At first, it didn’t tell us anything. I started doing squats in the room just to see what it would do, but the nurse said I just needed to give it at least an hour. My mom called Sadie and they were praying about the situation over the phone. Just as they were praying, the monitor graphs jumped up! The nurse came in and said I was having some contractions, but they were still far apart. Once I knew what contractions felt like, I realized I had been having them all day. I just thought that was the baby kicking me.
Soon the contractions started getting closer and closer, like five minutes apart. I was having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I was in labor. I still thought I should go home and wait a little longer. My only experience had been watching “movie labor” where the woman’s water breaks in an inconvenient place and has excruciating pain and barely makes it to the hospital before the baby pops out. What I was going through was not at all what I expected or planned or had seen in a movie!
Just as I was gathering my belongings to head home, the nurse told me my doctor happened to be on call that day. He was on his way to check on me. Since I didn’t think I was in labor, this surprised me, but, okay, since he was already at the hospital, let’s do it.
He came in and checked me. It was time for another surprise. My cervix had completely softened and was progressing fast. What? Wasn’t it yesterday this doctor had told me it might be two more weeks? I kind of freaked out. I was not ready! I didn’t even have my bags packed! I had not fed my dog! I had not done a million things I thought I would do! I was wearing a beanie!
I kept asking my doctor, “Are you sure I am ready? Can I go home and shower first?” The fear of delivery started to set in. I was trying to avoid it as long as possible. I tried to convince my doctor it wasn’t time. I, literally, tried to talk him out of my delivery. ?
One last time, I said, “Are you sure I’m ready?” The doctor said, “I don’t know about you, but your body is ready. This baby is coming sooner or later ?and there is no need to shower, you are about to get real messy.”
After a moment of panic, I realized the time had come and I was having a baby that night!
I sent my husband home to get our hospital bags and feed our dog,
My doctor broke my water around 7:00 pm.
By then all our family members had been informed and slowly started showing up at the hospital! By 9:00 p.m. there were about twenty people waiting in the waiting room.
My body progressed quickly. Within five hours, I dilated from 2cm to 8cm. My doctor was going home to take a nap, but he had just enough time to grab some dinner at Waffle House and get back to the hospital.
I knew I wanted to get an epidural. Some of you don’t know anything an epidural yet, but it’s a form of antiesthetic used during childbirth. I had done tons research on it and knew it was how I wanted to handle my delivery. However, the anesthesiologist administered the medication in my spine two times when we realized my body wasn’t going to response to the epidural. They offered me other alternative anesthesia methods, but I didn’t want to take the risk. There was no time for web MD or google, so I passed on the other pain relief methods.
Finally, it was time to push. I pushed for an hour. It was probably the longest hour in my life. My husband was right there holding my hand (or I should say right there letting me squeeze his hand), counting the seconds to push. My sister, Bella, was in the room taking pictures for us. Everyone else was in hallway, cheering us on and praying for the delivery. Toward the end, Bella had to put the camera down and help hold my legs up to help me push harder. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t expecting to do that job, but she did it! (Remember, there are lots of surprises in childbirth!)
When the baby was crowning (head coming out), there was a moment of me thinking I can’t do it. I even cried out, “God please help me, I can’t do it!” My husband had his head buried in my chest so tight and he cried too, but he kept repeating, “You can do it!” I used every bit of energy in my body for one last push and out came Baby Zane at 1:27 a.m.!
The nurse put him on my chest immediately, so I could have skin to skin contact. I just gazed into his sweet eyes, overwhelmed by the miracle that just had happened. I thought everything was over and I asked the doctor if I could put my legs down from the stirrups. He said he still had to sew me up. (Another, first time mommy mistake. I hadn’t thought about that part.)
Baby Zane came so fast on my last push that my doctor didn’t have time to give me an episiotomy (a cut made during delivery to help with the delivery). I had what is considered a fourth degree laceration, which basically means I had a lot of stitches. It took my doctor more than two hours to sew me up. He used eight packs of stitches (one pack can usually give fifteen stitches so that’s about 120 stitches ?). I was told it was more than someone who has a caesarian section delivery (typically five packs), but, praise God, I was busy staring at my new baby while all this went on.
All of my family were waiting outside the room to see baby Zane. Around 2:00 a.m. John Reed took Zane out to meet them. I was still in the room being worked on until 3:30 a.m. but I could hear everyone talking about how cute he was.
But the night wasn’t over. We got into a room around 4:00 in the morning. I decided to try to go to the bathroom. I remember waking up to three nurses holding me up because I had passed out from the pain and blood loss. They got me back in bed and I thought I could finally sleep.
But, around 5:30 a.m., the hospital fire alarm went off. I jumped up from the bed. Even though I could barely move, I was ready to run to get my baby. I don’t know why, but the first thing John Reed and I thought of was someone was trying to steal our baby ??I guess our parent instincts had already kicked in. My husband rushed to the nursery to see if everything was okay. It turned out a kid had pulled the alarm. Our baby was fine. He was sound asleep in the nursery.
After that traumatic delivery, I thought I would never want to go through a delivery again. But it’s crazy how strong we women are, physically and mentally. As I am writing this birth story, four months later, I am surprised how I have forgotten the pain. All I see now is the joy this little life has brought to our lives. I don’t think about not being able sit, walk, or even use the bathroom for weeks. I don’t think about the times I laid on the floor of the shower letting the water run over my body, crying and praying that the pain would go away. I don’t dwell on the sleepless nights and the exhaustion of caring for a newborn.
I think God places a special gift of courage in our heart to handle every experience we don’t think we can get through. For me, the gift of courage came because of my son. Through him, I don’t just have the joy and love he brings me, I also learned that I am strong, brave and resilient.
And, I know I can do it again. Because it will be worth it. It was the most beautiful, miraculous moment I could ever endure, and I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to become a mother.
God gave us the ultimate gift–our Baby Zane.
Rebecca was born in Portland, OR but grew up in Taiwan and she join the Robertson family at the age of 16. She is the oldest kid of Willie & Korie Robertson. Rebecca graduated from LSU with a degree in fashion design, merchandising & textile Science. She is married to husband John reed Loflin & together have a son, Zane Israel. They reside in Monroe, Louisiana.
Follow Rebecca on Instagram @rebeccalorobertson