Our first born child, our sweet baby boy, came into this world on February 11th at 9:16am. He weighed 7lbs, 8 ounces and measured 21 inches long.
Photo: Liz Cook
On February 9th, I woke up and my first thought was ‘today is his due date.’ I’d been having Braxton Hicks contractions on and off for two weeks. At that point, I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. We went for a walk and I napped probably 2 or 3 times. I baked a cake. We went to bed that night a tiny bit discouraged, but knowing he would come when he was meant to come.
My water broke at 3:40am on February 10th. I got up to go to the bathroom like I usually do, got back in bed and was almost asleep again, when I felt a tiny pop. I got up super fast (well, fast for 40 weeks pregnant), went into the bathroom and threw the light on. I looked at the bed and it was wet. I looked at Mitch and his eyes were wide. I said, ‘I think my water is breaking.’ Mitch was out of bed. I went to clean myself up and tons of fluid gushed to the floor. ‘My water is definitely breaking!’ This was it! We had reached the point of no return. The clock was ticking. I was shaking with excitement!
We were admitted to the hospital at 6:45am.
My contractions started pretty quickly. They were consistent at 2-3 minutes apart. I had decided to try it naturally, but to be completely honest, I wasn’t heart set on it. I kind of wanted to play in by ear and just see what happened. Bottom line, I wanted to be awake and coherent when he was actually born. I labored without any medication for 12 hours. I tried all kinds of pain management positions. Standing up, the ball, the tub, the shower, the bed. The tub was the best. I had a couple popsicles in there which were heavenly. The contractions still really hurt but the warm water was nice to feel afterwards. I’d say the worst place was the shower. Gravity is not your friend pain-wise. At this point, I was 5cm.
Photos: Liz Cook
I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted the epidural. I kept saying I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry over and over. Mitch believed in me so much, and that I could do it without medication. But I just couldn’t. I felt like I was letting him down, even though I know that’s not the case. He supported me no matter what I decided. I couldn’t have done this without him.
I finally got the epidural. It took the doctor a while because the spaces in my back are small. I had 4-5 major contractions while he was placing everything. It SUCKED to sit still through that. But I just held on to Mitch and prayed the medication would kick in soon. I remember feeling the needle but I don’t remember having any pain from it. Getting that epidural was the best decision ever. They told me I was having a contraction and asked if I could feel it. I couldn’t. I can’t even begin to tell you the relief I felt.
Photo: Liz Cook
It’s easier to smile when you have an epidural. Just part of my amazing team! I love these people so much… even though they brought in Chipotle to eat for dinner and I hadn’t eaten since 3:40am. OH YES THEY DID. But it’s okay! I wasn’t really hungry. I just wanted my baby.
Within a few hours, my strong 2-3 minute apart contractions slowed to weak, 6-7 minute apart contractions. The internal monitor showed that they weren’t strong enough to dilate me. Pitocin was now on the table, which I didn’t want. The combination of an epidural and pitocin scared me. I’d heard too many stories of them working against each other which resulted in c-sections. But, I needed it to dilate. My nurses were incredible at explaining it to me. They were able to closely monitor my contractions and how much pitocin I needed. Mitch and I discussed and we agreed to start it. I was on pitocin all night long. I got zero sleep. The nurse came in every 15 minutes to check on everything and I had to know how my baby was doing. Her response was always, ‘he looks beautiful.’ That was enough for me until the next time she came in. I probably asked her how he was each time she came in, and each time she calmly and sweetly said, ‘he looks beautiful.’ I had two nurses that were with me for my entire labor. One was there when I checked in, I labored her entire shift and was still in labor when she came back to work… and the other actually stayed an additional 2.5 hours after her shift ended to be with me. I can’t even begin to explain how much that meant to me.
When they checked me around 5am on February 11th, I was a full 10cm dilated and ready to push. I was so, so happy. He would be in my arms soon and it looked like I was going to be able to have him vaginally. I pushed for 4 solid hours (which actually did nothing and resulted in a fractured tailbone and/or torn cartilage)… 3 huge pushes per contraction (which I was now able to feel the pressure from) and he made zero progress. As babies come down the birth canal, they turn to be in the correct position. As Max was turning, his shoulders got stuck against my pelvic bone. He wasn’t going anywhere. The doctor came in and told me I had two options and only two options. Use a vacuum assist or c-section. I completely lost it. I remember crying and crying into Mitch’s shoulder. The thought of attaching a vacuum to my baby’s head to help suck him out of me sounded AWFUL. The doctor said I had 30 minutes to make my decision. I pushed for another 30 minutes, so determined to get him out without using the vacuum, but it didn’t work. I felt so defeated. I was exhausted. It had been 30 hours. I just wanted to hold my baby. We decided to use the vacuum and I counted down the agonizing minutes until the doctor came back into our room. I think I actually reached for him when he walked through the door.
The doctor showed me what the vacuum looked like and how it worked. He would only use it enough to help pass the baby’s shoulders with the help of my pushes and after that, he wouldn’t use it anymore. I watched him attach the vacuum to his head. It was physically and emotionally painful. I didn’t want that thing on my baby’s head. On my next contraction, I pushed 3 times and saw the progress. On the fourth push, after 30 hours of labor and 4 solid hours of pushing, he was out and in my arms.
Photos: Liz Cook
The feeling of his skin on mine was indescribable. He let out a couple cries but that was it. The second he was on my chest, he was lifting his head and looking around. His eyes were bright and wide open. I remember where my hands were on his body. I remember lifting his leg to make sure he really was a boy. I remember the doctor telling Mitch it was time to cut the cord. And I remember being completely and utterly exhausted. I could barely keep my eyes open. It was so frustrating. I wanted to soak in these precious moments. That was the whole reason why my birth plan was the way it was. I wanted to be awake and treasure him FINALLY being here. But it just proves that you can plan all you want, but that’s rarely how it goes. His entrance into the world is really the only thing I cared about remembering, and I only have flashes. I’m SO grateful that Liz was there to give me those memories back.
The doctor told me he needed to put a few stitches in and that it would take 15-20 minutes. (It turned out to be a significant 2nd degree tear.) A solid 45 minutes later, and feeling the needle and stitch every single time it went through me, he was done. In the last few minutes he was stitching me, the pain and exhaustion overwhelmed me. I said I was about to pass out and to take the baby. I don’t remember how many times I said it, but I felt Max being taken away from me and I passed out. My blood pressure showed that it wasn’t from blood loss, just from pain and exhaustion. After that, I couldn’t stay awake. I fell asleep. Which is exactly what I DID NOT want.
They took all of Max’s measurements, his footprints and Mitch gave him his first bath. I missed all of it. I was completely heartbroken. I still am. If I think about it too much, I’ll start crying. I didn’t want this at all. I wanted to see and remember everything. I woke up in time to see Mitch hold him for the first time. I only have a flash of it in my memory. Thank God Liz was there to capture it.
Photos: Liz Cook
We requested a few minutes of alone time. I really wanted it to be the 3 of us together so we could decide on a name. We had a couple in mind, but wanted to see his face before we decided. We both agreed that he looked like a Max. Finally, we had a name. Maximilian Mitchell Vaughan.
It was time to move to the mother/baby unit and they let me hold Max on the way there. I kept my eyes closed on the way there and just inhaled his scent. Ooooooh, it was so intoxicating. When everyone left the room and it was just Mitch, Max and me, the warm, golden, afternoon light poured into the room. Mitch got in my bed with me and we just snuggled on Max. We listened to him breathe, showered him with nose nuzzles and kisses and inspected every part of him. This is probably one of my favorites memories of the day.
Even though he didn’t come into this world the way I imagined, I delivered a safe, happy and healthy baby. Ultimately, that’s all I truly wanted. To be honest, I still struggle with the decision to use the vacuum. I see the tiny bruises on his head and I think to myself, ‘he wouldn’t have those if you had gotten a c-section.’ Was it selfish of me to use the vacuum? Everyone around me says no, absolutely not. But I still feel a little guilty. But when it’s all said and done, Max came into the world exactly how he was supposed to. Words can’t even describe how grateful Mitch and I are for this little life the Lord has entrusted us with. We’re so excited to learn all the things Max will teach us. We love our sweet boy!! <3