Grab some popcorn and sit back and relax, this is a long one. I was a little apprehensive about sharing my birth stories, because they are so so personal to me… but you never know when someone out there may be struggling with things themselves who could gain encouragement from our stories… maybe someone who wants a different experience in their next birth but is unsure about making that decision to pursue it… You know, birth involves so many choices, and it involves so many people. Each mom (and dad) has to make the choices she feels are best for her and her baby, so I don’t want this to come across that I made “the best” choices, or the way my births went are the ideal way. They were ideal for me, so I hope that none of this comes across in a way that would offend someone about the choices they made regarding their births. :0) So here they are. Two days of my life that have completely changed my life for the better. :0)
Writing is cathartic for me… one of the reasons I like having a blog. I am a very visual person but hands on too, so blogs are a great outlet for me to organize information I have come across but also just to put some of my thoughts down on “paper” so to speak. As I was nearing the end of my second pregnancy, it occurred to me that maybe I should write about my first son’s birth story. For a long time I didn’t like thinking about his birth, but it consumed me. That probably doesn’t make sense… I didn’t like that it consumed me, but I relived that day on June 27 every day for a good year. I couldn’t get it out of my head, just trying to figure out why it happened the way it did and what we could have done to have a different outcome. I wasn’t happy with the way his birth went, and it made for a rough start with us. I felt wronged, I felt like people didn’t listen to me and just did what they thought was best to my body… I can’t tell you how debilitating that can be… It has taken me a long time to get past some of the things that happened, and I am thankful for my second pregnancy because I feel like it has given me hope and the ability to be thankful for my experiences with Jackson.
Once we got there, they checked me and I was only 2 cm, but the effacement was progressing, so they admitted us. Not long after they came in to talk to me about an epidural and whether or not I wanted one. My contractions weren’t horrible, but I figured I would go ahead and get an epidural because I was scared of what the pain would eventually be like. I was also thinking that he may be busy later when I really wanted it, so we went ahead and did the epidural. Now that I look back on it, I did this way too soon, and probably came to the hospital way too soon as well.
At first, the epidural felt great, I was so “comfortable” and just kind of waiting out the labor… but then after a while my legs got super heavy and I couldn’t move them. My doctor thought it was weird but didn’t say much. Then as the day progressed, I felt that same numbness move up to my chest, and I was having trouble breathing. At this point, nurses came in to check on the epidural and I told them it was too strong and asked if they could turn it down. They said no. Twice they told me they “could not turn it off or turn it down.”
The hours crept by, my doctor broke my water around 5 cm (something else I wish we wouldn’t have done!), and at some point during the day I was basically asleep, completely out of it. Another nurse came in to check on the epidural at some point and again wouldn’t do anything about. Thank goodness we had a labor and delivery nurse shift change because the new nurse saw my condition and got my doctor back in the room. She immediately got the head of the anesthesiology department on the phone and in my room and finally… finally… they turned off that stupid epidural. So at this point, it was probably 8-9 p.m. at night, once they turned the epidural off and I came out of the “coma” or stupor they put me in. Throughout the whole day I was sick off and on from them giving me something to speed up and slow down my contractions depending on how the baby was doing, and at this point I was spent and exhausted.
I had fully dilated, so my doctor let me do some pushing. I pushed a few times, she could see his head coming down and commented that I was a “good pusher,” but because he was face up, she felt like I wouldn’t be able to push him out. When I look back, I wish I would have tried longer to see, but I was done at that point. Sick, frustrated and done, I just wanted to see my baby. So here we go back to the O.R. for a c-section.
At 10:47 p.m. on June 27, 2013, Jackson Barney Campbell made his entrance into the world. He was 8 lb. 5 oz. and 20 inches long. It wasn’t the birth I had in mind, but I was happy that he was safe and healthy, and I loved that he shared my Great Grandmother’s birthday.
What makes me sad about his entrance, was that I didn’t even hold him. I don’t know why, I think I was just so out of it that I just didn’t even register that I needed to hold him right then. They cleaned him up, and rolled him out to the waiting room where my family saw him and took tons of pictures, and then he met me in recovery, where I finally had some quiet alone time with him. We did our normal stay in the hospital, and I am so thankful for my sweet hubby who stood by my side through all of this, changing every diaper and handing me the baby, helping me out of bed, the list goes on.
My story doesn’t quite end there though, because at my two week check up my blood pressure was high. Like really high. Like they were afraid I was going to have a stroke high. So back into the hospital we go, with some postpartum preeclampsia for dessert. I stayed overnight, got the magnesium sulfate (which that stuff is so yucky!) and some meds to try and keep my blood pressure down. We were released to go home, only to have my blood pressure creeping up the next day. The medication they prescribed was not working, so back to the E.R. we go. We were there most of the night, with our new born, while they gave me different medications and waited to see what happened. Finally they found something that worked, and again we were released to go home around 3 a.m.
I will be honest, the weeks following were so hard, I was exhausted, sad about my birth, and felt like I could pass out when I would stand up or take a shower. I didn’t feel comfortable staying at home by myself with my newborn. My Mom came back and stayed with me, my mother in law came over a lot, I had a lot of support and help, which I was so thankful for. But as the weeks and months went on, more challenges with breastfeeding perpetuated because Jackson had a slight tongue tie (Yay for lactation consultants!) and challenges with sleep issues plagued us for months, making it impossible for me to emotionally heal from everything for a good 10 months. I had so much insomnia and anxiety, and all I wanted more than anything was for it to go away and just be able to relax. I would mentally tell myself to “just relax,” but my body would not listen! I am so thankful for all of the friends and family that supported me throughout this time, because it was truly the hardest year of my life, and I feel like so much joy was taken from this new exciting time with my sweet son because of my experiences and my difficulties coping with them.
I say all of this so that you can understand why we made different choices for our second birth.
Fast forward to September 2014. We had been living with my in-laws while building our new house, and went with Jacob to Florida for a work trip. I kept making comments to Jacob about just feeling kind of yucky and tired, and after dinner one evening he said, “Ok, we’re stopping in this grocery store and getting a pregnancy test.” I was like no way, that’s silly, but he insisted. And sure enough, pregnant again haha…
I knew this time I wanted things to be better. I wanted a better start. I wanted a better birth.
We went back to the doctor who delivered Jackson for my first couple of appointments. We talked to the nurse practitioner for the very first ultra sound and at the second visit met with my doctor. She was absolutely sure, that we would have another “big baby” and that there was no way I would be able to have a vaginal birth. She said my pelvis was too small, and the reason he was face up was so he could try to fit through. She told me a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) would be risky, that I would be putting my baby’s life and my life at risk, despite the fact that repeat c-setions have more risk associated with them than a VBAC does.
I couldn’t accept this. In my heart, I just felt like this all wasn’t true. I knew the reason Jackson was face up was because I spent so many hours on my back. We asked for a reference for a doctor who supported VBAC deliveries and started praying… a lot. God led us to Dr. Lindsey Longerot at Texas Children’s Women’s Pavilion. The first day we met with her, I asked God for a sign… I’m being serious, I said, “God, I’m going to be like Gideon today. I don’t want to do anything out of alignment of Your will, and we want to make the best and safest decision for our family. Please show me that what we are doing is what You want for us.” They called my name to go back, and wouldn’t you know that it was the same nurse that worked for my other doctor. She had quit her job there for personal reasons and got a new job here with Dr. Longerot. I just found that so interesting that the nurse who took care of us the whole time with Jackson in office would be the one to help us with this birth too.
We met with Dr. Longerot and loved her immediately. She put me at ease, and after hearing our story and reading the report from my first doctor, she looked me in the eye and told me, “Jenna, I think you would have a good chance at having a successful VBAC.” We continued to pray, asking God for guidance and help in making the decision. We did lots of research and started talking to people who had experience with VBACs. We knew that if we made some different decisions this time, get educated and get help, prepare as much as possible, that our outcome could possibly be different. We came to the conclusion that we would pursue this, and just do the best that we could. I knew at least that I could not go back to that same hospital where Jackson was born, and I needed a fresh start.
This was a hard decision to make. The hardest of my life. I have never prayed as much as I did for this baby, for this birth and our family. It was on my mind every single day until I had him. It was not an easy road to take, because there were people who thought we made a bad decision, who didn’t understand why we were doing this. Randomly, of course, I had gestational diabetes, so the concern of the baby being too big was again on the table. I felt like anything and everything Satan could do to have me doubt my faith in God was happening. There were so many days when I had doubt and worried, but I just kept saying to myself that God can do this. I can have a 10 lb. baby if He wants me to!
My pregnancy continued on, with hardly any other issues. Because of the diet I was on for the gestational diabetes, my weight gain slowed and I had little to no swelling, even at the very end. I went for my 37 week checkup, and of course my fundal height was still measuring 4 weeks ahead, so we kind of laughed about that at this point, but when she checked me she looked shocked and said, “You are already 3 cm!!!” We couldn’t believe it! She smiled and told me again she thought this would happen for us! But then she told me that she was going out of town for a conference! Ahh! No! I had some contractions that week and thought he might be coming soon but then they stopped. I was like ok, what is going on?! I think our baby boy was waiting for her to come back!
The next week, I had to see a different doctor, who took it upon herself to remind me that I may not have a successful VBAC, that I was measuring way ahead on my fundal height, and that I had gestational diabetes, so he was going to be big. I left crying that day, wishing I had just opted out of the visit, but talked to Jacob on the phone and again said, “Satan is putting doubt in my mind, he wants me to doubt that God can do this.”
The next weekend, I started having contractions on Saturday, May 9. They were 6-7 minutes apart and continued throughout the night. I was able to sleep and knew I needed to rest. We had hired a doula for this pregnancy, because we wanted someone with us who was experienced and could help with my labor. She had had a VBAC herself, and was so incredibly knowledgeable, so we knew she would be a huge asset to our success and safety. I texted her and told her it might be soon.
Sunday, May 10, on Mother’s Day, we woke up and decided to stay home from church, mainly because I knew I couldn’t sit for that long and I had no idea what was going to happen! Contractions continued, and when Jackson woke from his afternoon nap, I called my mother in law to come get him. I was having trouble focusing, and all he wanted to do was sit in my lap haha… I continued crawling around on the floor and doing all of those fun labor positions, trying to encourage him to get into the right position, and once Jackson left, I relaxed and things got real. I called Lourdes and said I need you to come over, but she said, “mmm, from the sound of your voice, I think we need to go to the hospital!” We had a 35-40 minute drive so I was ok with this.
We were in triage for two hours at Texas Children’s Women’s Pavilion, monitoring contractions. By the end of the two hours, I was almost fully effaced and almost at 4 cm, so they decided to admit me. I had to walk to my labor and delivery room, contractions were coming harder and there was no way I could sit. On the way to my room, I went through a transition, and I could tell that things were changing.
Once we got into labor and delivery, they hooked me up to the monitoring system. Because I was trying for a VBAC, we couldn’t do intermittent monitoring, but they did have a wireless system and that was nice. We continued to labor, I mainly took every contraction leaning over the bed with Jacob or Lourdes applying counter pressure to my back. Lourdes kept reminding me to relax my face and shoulders, and say, “yes” during every contraction, and of course making the “ghost” sound that Julia recommended hehe.
The anesthesiologist came in at one point, and asked if I wanted an epidural. At that point, I hadn’t ruled it out because I just wanted to have a vaginal birth, but when he told us that I could have the same reaction as last time, and that they wouldn’t adjust the dosage or turn it off later, I said no and bye. I did not come this far to have a repeat experience.
We got in the bathtub after this, and my contractions really picked up, and thank goodness for Lourdes because I was in pain and hating it, but she just kept telling me to relax and thinking about the contractions bringing me closer to my baby. I kept telling myself that God gave me the ability to do this, the strength to get through it.
This was His design for it to feel this way and for us as women to experience this. I might have scolded Eve and strongly dislike her too haha, but I kept reminding myself that even though this was lasting for hours, it would be a short time in the big picture of things.
My contractions were about a minute apart and super consistent, I got out of the bath tub and was so sick! The nurse and doctor checked me, even though I didn’t want them to and I was at a 9.5 cm! I was shocked! My water still hadn’t broken, and I felt like this was such a blessing, because it helped Jude get into position and also kept off some of the pressure. A few contractions later, my water broke and I felt the most intense pressure from the baby pushing down. This was the only moment that I screamed haha! I rolled over to my side to slow things down, (Thank you Julia for that reminder!) and Lourdes ran out of the room to get the doctors yelling, “she’s ready to push!” I was yelling for Lourdes to come back because I had no idea what to do next!
They got things set up and the resident doctor sat with us and helped us start pushing, giving me advice and helping with the counting. After a little while his head started to really descend, and they started giving me oxygen to help him and myself. The resident doctor, Kristin, kept telling me over and over how good I was doing, and we just kept pushing and pushing. She asked if I wanted to feel his head at one point and that was the most bizarre thing, but it really made me feel like we were almost done.
I could feel the ring of fire that people talk about, finally got to those last couple of pushes after about an hour and Kristin said, “Ok he’s almost here, one more!!!!” and then his head was out, and after another push his shoulders were out! I will never forget how my stomach collapsed, and then looking up to see my sweet baby, it was just so surreal!
Jacob cut the cord, which I am still so impressed about haha, because if you know him at all, you know he does not like blood! And then in seconds, Jude Theodore Campbell was placed into my arms.
I just kept looking at him and in complete awe that God did this for us, and kept looking at Jacob saying, “We did it! Thank God!” I felt like Leah in Genesis 29:35 when she had Judah, and said,” Now I will praise the Lord!” I love how Jude’s name means Praise, because that is what we were immediately doing when we had him! I turned to Lourdes and again just said, “Lourdes, we did it, we had our VBAC!” I cannot describe the complete elation and joy I experienced that Monday morning, holding my sweet baby boy, who was so incredibly alert. He just kept staring into my eyes, I could not take him in enough.
Finally… finally, I felt the resolution I had been searching and praying for, for so long.
Our story doesn’t end there though. It seems that there always has to be some kind of stressful post partum situation for me to have a baby! For whatever reason, my uterus was not clamping down, and I was hemorrhaging. Maybe it was because of Jude’s size, maybe it was because I had a lot of amniotic fluid, but everything they were doing wasn’t working. They went through almost five bags of pitocin (normally a person only gets one) in my IV, 4-5 different shots and finally they found a cream that worked.(There seems to be a trend that medications and anesthesia have strange effects or no effects on me!) I was so so worried, because they kept measuring how much blood I was losing and if it didn’t stop soon, I would be wheeled back into the O.R. for a DNC or possible hysterectomy. But all through out those 5 hours between having Jude and then realizing my situation, I kept repeating this verse in my head…
God had a plan for us. I kept begging God to please give us those plans of hope and peace, for a future of good things. I lost about a liter of blood that day, and in the following days had two blood transfusions. We had a longer hospital stay that expected, which was hard not being able to go home and see my toddler, but even now I can say I am thankful for my experiences. I feel like God was showing me that If I have faith, He will do it. He hears the desires of my heart and wants to give us good things, but He doesn’t want me to forget about Him. He doesn’t want me to become too proud and not give acknowledgement to Him.
That week I kept praying for my health to improve, so that I could go home and take care of my little family. And He did that for us. He did so much more than that. I have learned so much through my births and having my children. So much about God and how He loves us. I have learned so much more how to depend on Him and go to Him for help. I love Him for placing those hard things in my life, and I love Him for placing those amazing and wonderful things in my life as well. Blessed be His name.
Jude was 8 lb. 9 oz. that day, 4 oz bigger than Jackson. I will never forget when Lourdes opened the blanket he was in on my chest and said, “Jenna, look at him, he’s huge! How much do you think he weighs?” I had my “big” baby that my first doctor said I couldn’t have. I had the birth that many people said that I couldn’t have. I put to rest those doubts and fears, and now I won’t have to wonder for years to come “if” I could have had this kind of birth too. I am so thankful this worked out for us, because I know that’s not the case for everyone who goes this route.
Jude’s name has a number of meanings, but one of them is “Builder.” I feel like God has built up my life in so many ways, built up my faith, rebuilt my hurting heart and built a future of confidence and hope through Jude. I always want to remember this birth. I think about it a lot, reliving it, because I am afraid if I don’t that I will forget it and the details of that day.
It is interesting for me just to think about how incredibly different my two births were. Like on the opposite ends of the spectrum! I love each of my stories though, and I love what these experiences have brought to my life and my husband’s life. I am so thankful and so gracious for what God has given me, and I am living every day trying to make the best of it. He has placed in my care two precious little souls, and I pray each day that I can teach and show them how God can take care of them and how much He loves them and wants to give them good things in their life, how He hears the desires of their hearts.