Monday, May 9, 2011

Jude's Birth Story

To celebrate her daughter's first birthday, my friend Chalise, from Memphis Misfit Mama is having a Birth Story Week, where she is sharing different people's birth stories. She kicked off the week with Jude's Birth Story, which I finally wrote in a good bloggable length just for her (I may or may not have just made that word up). I'd written a very short version on here shortly after he was born, and I'd written an eight-page version to Jude as a memory of every detail surrounding his birth, but I'd never written a version that was just right for sharing on a blog. But now, I am pleased to finally present to you, two years later, Jude's birth story.

Just a warning... this is a birth story. I tried to keep it as PG as possible, but still, if birth details make you uneasy, you may not want to read it. Consider yourself warned.

Me, four days before Jude was born.

Jude was due Saturday, February 7th, 2009, and we were planning to welcome him into our arms in the comfort of our own home. By mid-December, my midwife started to get concerned that he was still breech. She suggested that we try a few things to help him turn, and we tried EVERYTHING—laying inverted on an ironing board propped on the edge of the couch, flips in the indoor pool at the seminary, playing music and shining lights at the bottom of my belly, even moxibustion—but nothing worked. Finally, she tried turning him by pushing him with her hands (called an External Cephalic Version, or ECV), but she said she could feel his heels digging into her hand refusing to be moved. So we accepted that maybe he had a reason for not turning that we couldn’t see, but we continued to pray that he would turn before he was born.

Our midwife teamed up with another midwife who had breech birth experience, and we prepared for a homebirth, but were very realistic about the risks and the possibility of transferring to the hospital if everything didn’t go perfectly.

My mom came to visit us the Tuesday before he was due, and on Wednesday evening we walked several power laps around the mall. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions since about 20 weeks, and they got stronger after walking at the mall, but eventually petered out.

At 10 o’clock, we laid down to go to bed and I suddenly felt a *pop* and water started gushing all over our bed like a tsunami! I laid in bed and just laughed because it felt so weird. We knew this was it, so Josh started a pot of coffee and began filling the birth pool. I called the midwife and she came right over. Immediately, regualr and intense contractions started coming. The midwife arrived, checked my progress, and said I was already 6cm dilated! Over halfway there and labor had just begun! We called the doula and told her to come on, anticipating that things would move quickly.

I showered and changed, stopping to relax and breathe through contractions. We made our way to the living room, and I had just knelt down against the couch when I felt a big kick and a rush of what I thought was more water. But the midwife told Josh to start the car—we were going straight to the hospital. It was blood that came out with that kick, and she was concerned. I was very disappointed, but I trusted the midwife and wanted the best for Jude. She continued listening to his heartbeat while Josh and Mom scrambled to get things together to go to the hospital, and his heartbeat stayed fine. She cautiously decided that as long as his heartbeat was fine, we could stay at home, so we did.

In order to keep a close eye on any more potential blood loss, the midwife said I shouldn’t get in the birth pool. I labored all night on the couch, sleeping between contractions (which has spaced out to about 15 minutes apart) and holding onto Josh during them. During this time I was also really cold. I had every blanket in the house on top of me as I slept and labored.

Around morning, things started to pick back up. During every contraction, I needed someone to squeeze my hips together as hard as they could. I can’t explain it, but without the squeezing, it felt like I was going to split in half, but when someone was squeezing me, the contractions hardly bothered me at all. I honestly enjoyed relaxing so deeply during contractions, and I’m told that I was one of the happiest, most polite laboring women that my birth team had ever seen! I tried to stay positive, and when a contraction would be particularly intense, I would say, “Oh that was a good one!” I also kept thanking people, especially the doula (who did most of the hip squeezing), for helping me and doing things for me.

I remember asking the midwife around 4 AM if I was in transition, and she said that she thought I was. I just knew it wouldn’t be much longer. I tried to get back in the shower one more time, and the hot water felt SO good and helped so much, but it also made Jude’s heart rate rise. The cooler water didn’t help as much, so we got out and went back to the living room.

Because Jude was feet first, rather than head or even butt first, and there wasn’t much pressure being put on my cervix, I never fully dilated. We kept waiting, hoping things would change, when around 8 or 9 AM, one of Jude’s feet pushed its way out into the world! Around the same time, my body started doing less contracting and more pushing. I was fighting the urge to push in every way I knew how, but it was getting stronger and stronger. I kept hoping that I would soon be fully dilated and it would be okay to let my body push him out, but it never happened. We knew that it wasn’t safe for him to be born unless I was fully dilated, so finally, at about 10 AM, we made the very difficult decision to transfer to the hospital for a c-section.

We checked into the ER and a lady started to enter my information into the computer. After just a minute or so, I had a contraction and she realized that this was not early labor! She jotted a few critical things down on paper and hurried us through. A male nurse came with a wheelchair to take me to the exam room, but I couldn’t sit down because of his foot! So I rode on my knees facing the nurse. It was pretty comical.

Getting the epidural was probably the most painful, traumatic experience I’ve ever been through, and I’m not exaggerating in the least, but I won’t go into those details. The actual surgery/birth didn’t hurt at all. It was a weird feeling; my belly felt like a big Jello Jiggler that kept jiggling around as they… I don’t know… did whatever they had to do to get him out. Soon, we heard him cry. He was finally born! They took him over to weigh him and clean him up while they put me back together (more weird jiggling). 10 pounds, three ounces and 22 inches long! I knew he felt big, but WOW!

It was so hard to hear him cry and not be able to comfort him. The doctor asked Josh if he had a camera. We had forgotten it! So his very first picture was taken with Daddy’s cell phone. It is still difficult for me to look at that picture because his is crying so hard and he looks so cold, scared, and lonely. This was not the way that I wanted him to be welcomed into this world.

Nevertheless, Jude Elijah Hutchens was finally here and we couldn’t possibly love him more. I wouldn’t change a thing about his birth because I am confident that we made the best decisions possible at each step, and I know that this was just the way he had to be born. I am so encouraged by the wonderful labor I had and how the contractions were actually pretty manageable the whole time. I am also humbled by the incredible midwives and doula who believed in me enough to even give me a chance for a breech home birth, and thankful for the kind ER doctor who performed the c-section. I still believe in birth and look forward to my future VBAC babies.


  1. Wow, thanks for sharing! I've never written out Jacob's birth story. I really should, if I can remember it!

  2. Love! I need to take the time to write out my son's birth story (over 2 years later).

  3. What an amazing birth story! Thanks for sharing. I have no little ones of my own (yet...DH and I are young newlyweds), but I hope to give birth at home. Thank you so much for sharing your positive but realistic experience :)